Despite implementing numerous foreign policies and initiating military actions that have endangered lives in countries around the world since taking office less than two years ago, President Donald Trump said Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that struggling people should stay in "their home countries" and strongly suggested that they were no longer welcome in the United States.
Using his signature phrase, Trump suggested that people wishing to seek refuge or work in other parts of the world "make their countries great again," while arguing against the Global Compact for Migration, aimed at protecting the safety and rights of migrants and supporting countries that integrate migrants into their communities.
"Migration should not be governed by an international body, unaccountable to our own citizens," Trump said.
The crowd chuckles uncomfortably after Trump says, "Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again."
The president then pivots to bashing socialism. pic.twitter.com/MXycf8nqOK
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 25, 2018
Trump's statement drew shocked reactions on social media.
Trump announces won’t take part in global migration compact - says people should stay in their own countries and ‘make their countries great again’. The President of the USA has just rejected idea of migration writ-large #UNGA
— Mina Al-Oraibi (@AlOraibi) September 25, 2018
We are experiencing largest global displacement crisis in recorded history with over 68 million displaced persons & 25 million refugees globally. Migration is a human right. #ActualLeadership would open U.S. doors, not slam them shut. #UNGA #UNSC SIGN NOW: https://t.co/opW5I9AjU9
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) September 25, 2018
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Trump's comments came as his administration has made it harder and harder for refugees to seek asylum in the U.S., with Attorney General Jeff Sessions eliminating asylum rights for people fleeing gangs or domestic violence, and officials denying more asylum cases than they have in over a decade. The president's hardline anti-immigration policies have been condemned by the United Nations and drawn worldwide protests since he entered office.
As Refugees International wrote ahead of the president's speech, Trump has turned away from countries around the world that have relied on humanitarian assistance from the United States.
"His proposed 2018 humanitarian budget cuts would have totaled about one-third of all U.S. humanitarian funding," said the group. "This would have devastated the emergency food and relief programs for which he took credit last year. The president has called for similar cuts for 2019. Congress has largely ignored both sets of proposals, but the requests send an unfortunate signal to other governments and international organizations and create uncertainty."
While he's spent his time in office railing against migration, the president has actively taken actions that have made it impossible for refugees to simply stay home and "make their countries great again." The United States' support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s war in Yemen has helped to create "the world's worst humanitarian crisis," with five million children at risk of famine and three million people displaced.
Trump's reinstatement of the global gag rule—officially known as the Mexico City Policy, has curtailed the healthcare that's available to people around the world—based on right-wing opposition to women's right to abortion care, while the sanctions he has imposed on Iran after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal has left many Iranians struggling to access medications and other goods, as unemployment numbers worsen.
"It is unacceptable for [Trump] to declare his administration a humanitarian leader when it has done so much to undermine humanitarian objective," Refugees International said.