On Sunday, The U.S. Mission to the United nations (UN) informed the secretary-general that the United States will no longer participate in the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) – over concerns of infringement on sovereignty.
Administration officials believe that the US national government must exert full control over its own immigration policy, and not cede control to supranational governing bodies like the UN – that frequently, and explicitly, act against the interests of the United States.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley said, “America is proud of our immigrant heritage and our long-standing moral leadership in providing support to migrant and refugee populations across the globe. No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue.”
“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,” Haley said.
With the announcement comes the reversal of the Obama administration’s decision to sign on the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which hopes to set up the GCM by 2018.
Expanded expectations for immigrants are created by a number of commitments for signatories that are included in the New York Declaration. These commitments include education for children within a few months of arrival and ending detention for children in order to determine their immigration status.
Specifically, by adding the International Organization for Migration to the U.N.’s purview, the GCM will also attempt to “strengthen the global governance of migration.”
Haley pointed out that all of this goes against the United States’ sovereignty, and its authority to set its own immigration policy.
“The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty,” Haley said.
In a separate written statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson agreed with Haley’s analysis, stating that the New York Declaration “contains a number of policy goals that are inconsistent with U.S. law and policy.”
“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 said.
“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,” he said.
In a statement of his own, Miroslav Lajčák, the president of the U.N. General Assembly, expressed his regret at the decision of the U.S. to opt out of the GCM.
“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. As such, it has the experience and expertise to help ensure that this process leads to a successful outcome,” he said.
A resident fellow in law and policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, Andrew Arthur, disagreed. The U.S. immigration policy should be formulated by elected officials and not by an unelected group of bureaucrats from the U.N.
“The idea that we had unelected officials negotiating some sort of global migration compact is problematic. With respect to refugees and the movement of peoples, the United States needs to play a strong role, we always have. We accept more refugees for permanent resettlement than any other country on the face of the earth,” Arthur said.
“There’s plainly a huge role for the United States to play, as relates to migration. But as relates to migration to the United States, the fact remains that that is an issue for Congress and for the American people to decide, not for unaccountable bureaucrats in Turtle Bay,” he said.