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On Global Effort to Protect Migrants and Refugees, US Says, "We're Out!"

United Nations declaration committing to rights "is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty," says Ambassador Nikki Haley

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley. (Photo: U.S. Mission Photo/Eric Bridiers/via flickr/cc)

In another testament of the Trump administration's anti-immigration stance, the United States announced that it is ditching negotiations towards a United Nations pact aimed at protecting the rights of refugees and migrants.

All 193 U.N. member states, including the U.S., adopted the New York Declaration in September of 2016, which included the goals of adopting a global compact on refugees and another on migration. Among the commitments laid out were protecting the human rights of all refugees and migrants and working towards ending the practice of detaining children for the purpose of determining migration status.

In a statement released Saturday announcing the decision, the United States Mission to the U.N. said the declaration "contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration's immigration principles." Because of this, the U.S. was walking away from participation towards the Global Compact on Migration, the statement said.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the declaration "is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty"—an argument echoed in a statement released Sunday by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. 

The decision is "another example of the Trump administration's contempt for collective solutions to pressing international problems."In response to the development, Bill Frelick, director of Human Rights Watch's refugee program, told the New York Times, "Simplistic solutions like walls will not solve the complex problem of unsafe, irregular, disorderly migration, demonstrating a callous disregard for the lives of migrants and jaw-dropping irresponsibility toward the community of nations."

The decision was also met with outrage by the Norwegian Refugee Council, which said it's "another example of the Trump administration's contempt for collective solutions to pressing international problems, and raises the specter of a possible U.S. withdrawal from the Global Compact on Refugees process."

Speaking to the U.N. a day after the declaration was adopted, then-president Barack Obama, whose administration also detained child immigrants, called the refugee crisis "a test of our common humanity—whether we give in to suspicion and fear and build walls," later adding, "I believe history will judge us harshly if we do not rise to this moment."

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