U.S. Pulls Out of United Nations Migration Pact

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says decisions about immigration 'must always be made by Americans and Americans alone'

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 04 Dec 2017 at 8:07 AM

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Saturday that President Donald Trump made the decision to withdraw the U.S. from negotiations on an immigration pact because it was “not compatible with U.S. sovereignty.”

All throughout his presidential campaign, Trump pledged to secure the border, enforce immigration laws and prioritize U.S. citizens’ safety and interests above all other concerns. And part of this agenda, Haley told the U.N., involves ensuring that the U.S. maintains its national sovereignty when entering into agreements with other countries.

"No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue," Haley said. "But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone."

"We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country," she added.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in September 2016 — known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants — that allotted two years for the assembly to come to an agreement on how to handle the global refugee crisis that displaced millions. Former President Barack Obama backed the declaration, and Trump's reversal signaled the next shift in U.S. foreign policy.

"The United States has decided to end participation in the U.N. process to develop a Global Compact on Migration (GCM)," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement Sunday. "Negotiations on the GCM will be based on the New York Declaration, a document adopted by the U.N. in 2016 that commits to 'strengthening global governance' and contains a number of policy goals that are inconsistent with U.S. law and policy."

Related: 100,000 in U.S. Ordered Deported, but Their Countries Won’t Take Them Back

"While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations, in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders," Tillerson added. "The United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal."

In response to Trump's move, Brenden Varma, a spokesman for U.N. General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák, said the president regretted the United States' move to "disengage" from the global approach to dealing with mass migration.

"The role of the United States in this process is critical as it has historically and generously welcomed people from all across the globe and remains home to the largest number of international migrants in the world," Varma said in a statement. "[Lajčák] stresses that migration is a global phenomenon that demands a global response, and that multilateralism remains the best way to address global challenges."

(photo credit, homepage image: Ambassador Nikki Haley at UN Security Council, CC BY 2.0, by U.S. Mission to the U.N.)

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