U.S. Leads Opposition to United Nations Safe Migration Accord Despite Mass Support

The U.S. is leading global anti-immigration sentiment as representatives refuse to agree to a new nonbinding United Nations accord to ensure safe, orderly and humane migration.

Though around 85 percent of U.N. member states agreed to the Global Compact for Migration on Monday, a minority of nations remained opposed, The Associated Press reported.

Read more: U.S. Navy refused to help sinking migrant boat that capsized, killing dozens, survivors say​

Over the weekend, diplomats gathered for a migration conference in Marrakech, Morocco. They were addressed by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who warned, "Unregulated migration bears a terrible human cost: a cost in lives lost on perilous journeys across deserts, oceans and rivers; and a cost in lives ruined at the hands of smugglers, unscrupulous employers and other predators.

"More than 60,000 migrants have died on the move since the year 2000. This is a source of collective shame."

Driven by war, climate change, persecution and poverty, increasing migration has created tensions in many parts of the world. Fear of high migration has buoyed populist and right-wing movements across Europe and in the United States.

While migrants can be helpful in diversifying and rejuvenating national workforces, many opponents fear an influx of foreigners will drive down wages and living standards, and threaten traditional values.

The U.N. agreement establishes a framework cooperation in dealing with global migration, requiring signatories to agree to taking a range of steps. For example, nations would commit to limiting the pressure on countries with many migrants and promoting self-reliance of new arrivals, Politico explained.

The ultimate goals are to reduce illegal migration, help integrate migrants and return them to their home countries. In July, all 193 members—except the U.S.—finalized the pact. However, according to Reuters, opponents have since fought back.

Of the U.N.'s 193 members, 164 approved the new migration pact Monday. Among the holdouts were Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and the U.S. Supporters of the accord hoped this weekend's meeting would help win over some of the critics.

Even some countries that helped draft the accord have so far failed to sign. Proponents in Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Israel, Slovenia and Switzerland, for example, are all still fighting to get the agreement through their respective parliaments, The Associated Press stated.

Work on the Global Compact for Migration began in 2016, when all 193 U.N. member states adopted a declaration that no single country could bear the challenge of migration alone. The U.S. adopted the stance under then-President Barack Obama.

President Donald Trump was quick to withdraw the country from the agreement when he came into office. His administration is vehemently anti-migrant, and some of his most divisive campaign rhetoric and policy has centered around the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump has repeatedly demanded a wall along the length of the 1,954-mile border and characterized migrants from the south as criminals, violent gang members and rapists. His administration has forcibly separated families crossing the border illegally to claim asylum and sent thousands of American soldiers to the border to block a migrant caravan moving through Central America.

In pulling out of the accord last year, the White House argued that parts of the agreement clashed with "U.S. immigration and refugee policies."

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A U.S. flag at a makeshift camp set up by a group of Central American migrants close to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, on December 7. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. Leads Opposition to United Nations Safe Migration Accord Despite Mass Support | World