BY ALEX NEWMAN
The United Nations’ role in immigration policy is growing worldwide with the establishment of a UN “Network for Migration” in dozens of countries to facilitate large migratory flows, sparking alarm among American border-security advocates already concerned about mass migration and the escalating crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The UN networks, which are led by a coalition of UN agencies, exist to support the implementation of the controversial “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” (GCM) adopted by the UN and over 150 of its member states in December of 2018.
Among other goals, the global agreement aims to facilitate the expansion of what the UN describes as “regular migration,” providing more legal pathways for would-be immigrants seeking to re-settle in wealthier countries such as the United States.
While the U.S. government has not been formally involved in the UN efforts of recent years to transform global migration policy, that may be changing, multiple sources told The Epoch Times.
Under the new administration, “the U.S. government has attended several GCM regional reviews, reviewing progress on implementation of the compact in all the regions of the world,” UN Network on Migration Communications Coordinator Florence Kim told The Epoch Times in a phone interview.
“This is great because even though the U.S. did not talk about any progress, they said that they would engage much more and they said they are re-considering all the discussions, and they are willing to participate much more in these forums,” added Kim, who serves as a spokesperson for the UN effort.
The U.S. State Department did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the issues by phone or email.
The UN’s refugee agency already “works closely with U.S. government agencies and [Non-Governmental Organizations] responsible for resettling refugees in the U.S.,” the international organization says, adding that the U.S. program is the largest in the world.
In 2018, citing concerns over sovereignty and the interests of the American people, the administration of President Donald Trump rejected U.S. involvement in the UN’s signature immigration effort to date, the GCM. Numerous other governments in Europe and beyond followed suit.
However, the Biden administration is warming up to the international agreement and becoming more involved in the process, even sending U.S. representatives to regional meetings on the compact, the UN official told The Epoch Times.
The growing UN push on global migration, combined with ongoing changes in immigration policy between the Trump and Biden administrations, has numerous U.S. organizations dedicated to border security very concerned.
In interviews with The Epoch Times, several leading figures in the immigration debate spoke out against the UN migration networks and the UN effort to get the U.S. government officially involved.
Instead, they insisted that U.S. immigration laws created by Americans’ elected representatives be enforced and strengthened, and that the UN be kept out of U.S. immigration policy.
“Our view is that this is a domestic policy issue,” said Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a leading immigration-focused organization that seeks to slow the flow of newcomers.
“When you add the United Nations to what should be a domestic issue, the end product is something that you’re not going to want to consume,” added Mehlman, echoing widespread concerns among immigration-policy advocates about the UN’s efforts to get more involved.
UN Pleased With Biden’s Actions
So far, the Biden administration has not publicly made any concrete moves to join the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration rejected by his predecessor.
However, its actions on the issue have been praised by the UN and its International Organization for Migration, which is leading the charge to promote the GCM.
“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) applauds President Joe Biden’s plans to address the drivers of migration and advance safe, orderly and regular migration in the region,” the UN organization said in a statement released in early February using the precise language of the global migration pact.
The Biden administration’s executive actions on immigration “will provide a framework to expand refugee resettlement,” the UN IOM added in reference to Biden’s orders increasing the cap on refugees from less than 20,000 per year to over 120,000.
The UN agency also boasted that it had already “assisted the United States with case processing, pre-departure health assessments, cultural orientation and transportation” of migrants from Central America.
“IOM looks forward to working with the Biden administration … to foster the positive opportunities and impacts of regular migration for individuals and their families as well as for the communities and societies with which they are affiliated,” the statement added.
As soon as Biden took office, the UN suggested that the U.S. government should re-engage in the UN’s international efforts on global migration.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, for instance, issued a statement on Biden’s first day expressing hope that the new administration would join the GCM.
“This partnership is needed now more than ever as we seek to provide assistance, protection and sustainable solutions to the displacement of record numbers of people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict, violence or disaster, or are migrating in the hopes of finding a better life for themselves and their families,” said the statement issued by Guterres’s office.
The top UN refugee official, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, anticipated closer cooperation with the Biden administration as soon as it took office.
“We look forward to deepening the strong and trusted partnership with the United States, and to working with the new administration and Congress to address the many challenges of forced displacement around the world,” Grandi said on Jan. 20.
Trump Led Global Opposition
Under the Trump administration, which sought to reduce illegal immigration and some forms of legal immigration into the United States in favor of merit-based programs, the UN efforts to boost its involvement in migration policy received a cold shoulder.
It represented a clean break from the Obama administration, which in 2016 played a key role in the UN’s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants that eventually led to the GCM negotiated at a December, 2018, summit in Morocco.
Trump blasted the effort. Indeed, a forceful statement released by the U.S. State Department on Dec. 7, 2018, slammed the GCM as a flagrant attack on sovereignty that was unacceptable to the United States.
“The Compact and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which called for the development of the Compact and commits to ‘strengthening global governance’ for international migration, contain goals and objectives that are inconsistent and incompatible with U.S. law, policy, and the interests of the American people,” the State Department said, adding that the U.S. government objected to and would not be bound by the UN deal.
“The United States proclaims and reaffirms its belief that decisions about how to secure its borders, and whom to admit for legal residency or to grant citizenship, are among the most important sovereign decisions a State can make, and are not subject to negotiation, or review, in international instruments,” the statement continued, adding that the U.S. government would maintain the sovereign right to control its borders.
Beyond that, the Trump administration said the UN efforts represented an attempt by the UN “to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests.”
“While the United States honors the contributions of the many immigrants who helped build our nation, we cannot support a ‘Compact’ or process that imposes or has the potential to impose international guidelines, standards, expectations, or commitments that might constrain our ability to make decisions in the best interests of our nation and citizens,” the State Department said before outlining a large number of specific criticisms of the GCM.
Among other concerns, the Trump administration said the UN compact was a threat to free expression, immigration enforcement, American workers, and even a proper understanding of “rights.”
Aside from an apparently automated message indicating she was on leave until March 29, Leslie Marshall with the Press Office of the U.S. Bureau of Global Public Affairs did not respond to repeated requests for comment asking about the State Department’s current position.
Numerous other governments that declined to participate also warned that the UN agreement sought to increase the flow of immigration into Western nations, usurp the sovereignty of national governments in determining policy, and even redefine migration as a “human right.”
Following Trump’s lead, dozens of nations and governments decided against adopting the UN compact including Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Austria, Israel, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Latvia, Poland, Australia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Chile, and more.
“It cannot … be that any formulations are adopted that could perhaps or possibly be interpreted to mean that migration can be a human right,” argued Austrian Vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache at the time. “That can and must not be the case.”
Other European leaders warned that the UN’s efforts would exacerbate the migration crisis in Europe while encouraging even more mass migration.
In the end, only about 150 governments—mostly governments of nations sending rather than receiving migrants—joined the compact.
Over 40 governments, including many of the top destinations for migrants, declined to support the UN deal.
GCM Via Backdoor?
However, even without having supported the UN GCM, its policies and objectives are quietly being implemented in nations where authorities rejected the agreement.
Without naming specific governments, UN Network on Migration Communications Coordinator Kim told The Epoch Times that most of the governments that declined to participate or approve the UN agreement were nonetheless implementing its “common sense” provisions.
“You don’t need to adopt the GCM to actually implement it,” she said. “They will implement it at their own rhythm.”
“Sometimes it can be politically sensitive, so countries [governments] did not adopt it,” added Kim, who works at the UN’s offices in Geneva. “But a majority of those countries are implementing at least some parts of it.”
The United States is actually surrounded by nations where governments are enthusiastic supporters of the UN effort. In fact, the governments of both Mexico and Canada are considered “champions” of the GCM, Kim said.
“Mexico has agreed and requested to pilot some tools developed by the UN agencies through the Network for Migration,” Kim said, adding that the Mexican government served as “co-facilitator of the negotiations.”
“They know how relevant migration is for their own country, so they know they need to manage it better, to make sure those crossing the country or leaving from Mexico are protected,” she added.
“The fact that Mexico can be supported by the UN in protecting migrants leaving or crossing can have an impact on the United States,” continued Kim. “We are talking about international migration here, so anything implemented by one country has an impact on neighboring countries.”
To the North, Canada is also a GCM “champion country,” she said.
“Canada has been implementing quite a lot, they are quite progressive in this sense, meaning that their policies are much more gender responsive, they are quite active in the integration of migrants,” continued Kim.
All of that will have an effect on America, she said.
“The U.S. is a bit surrounded by GCM champion countries and the latest declarations from the U.S. representatives show there is a real willingness to improve migration management and make sure that migrants in the U.S. are protected and included,” Kim continued. “This will benefit the whole population.”
UN Migration Networks
As part of the implementation of the GCM, the UN has set up “Migration Networks” in about 40 countries around the globe so far.
Most recently, the UN announced the creation of a “Network for Migration” in Iraq, one of the nations sending large numbers of migrants into the West.
In a statement, a deputy special representative of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the network would coordinate UN support to “improve migration governance in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also referred to as UN Agenda 2030, represent a comprehensive global effort to reform governance and the economy to be more in line with what the UN considers to be sustainable.
The Chinese Communist Party boasted that it played a “crucial role” in the SDG plan, which UN leaders said represents a “master plan for humanity” that will “transform our world.”
Leading the Networks for Migration are a number of key UN agencies, including several that are run by Chinese officials loyal to Beijing.
Kim, the UN spokesperson for the migration networks, said the goal of the UN was to try to pool its expertise in supporting governments in the implementation of the UN global migration pact.
“For Mexico it is important to support the government with the ongoing situation with the U.S., trying to adjust the migration policies, trying to protect the migrants going through or leaving from Mexico,” she said.
The networks also serve as a “tool for advocacy,” Kim explained, adding that a trust fund run by the UN Network was supporting migration-related projects around the world.
In addition to the nine UN agencies on the executive board and the dozens of UN entities involved are hundreds of “civil society” organizations, Kim said.
Among the priorities of the UN agency are ending detention of what Kim described as “irregular migrants,” known more commonly in the United States as illegal immigrants.
Asked about “irregular migration,” she said: “Calling migration illegal is not accurate, a person cannot be illegal.”
When asked if the sort of policies being supported under the UN’s programs would encourage even more migration, Kim hesitated but suggested there were limits.
“We are not there to say ‘let’s have all the migrants in the world, and have them go anywhere,’” Kim clarified. “The compact aims to ensure that migration is well governed. We find the right balance that benefits those that want to come to a country, those who live in the country, and the governments involved.”
In Europe, she suggested creating new and larger pathways for legal migration would prevent people from crossing the Mediterranean.
“If they have legal means to come to Europe in a controlled, more-governed way, then the migrants don’t have to risk their lives,” she said, adding that this would provide more labor and tax revenue for the receiving countries.
She also argued that attempting to stop mass migration was futile.
“You can build all the walls in the world that you want, but when people have to leave, they will,” she said.
Critics Say No to UN Involvement
While the UN and the tax-funded refugee agencies and NGOs involved with the global organization have been pushing the U.S. government to deepen its involvement in UN migration programs and further expand legal avenues for immigration, critics have sounded the alarm.
In a phone interview with The Epoch Times, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) Media Director Ira Mehlman said the UN should not be involved in U.S. policy discussions about migration.
“These are domestic policy issues,” he said. “Each nation should make these decisions based on their own criteria.”
“What happens when these kinds of international organizations get involved, you basically have other countries telling the United States and Germany what they should do,” added Mehlman. “Once you throw this into the international arena it becomes very easy for other countries to sit back and tell ours what we should be doing when it’s not really their business.”
Mehlman also argued that the governments pushing increased global migration via the UN were mostly not those that would be forced to deal with the consequences.
“They should not be telling us what we should be doing,” he said. “This is passing the buck, and that never works.”
Instead, elected representatives at the national level should make decisions in the best interests of their own nations, he said.
In the case of the United States, he said that meant stopping the “chaos” at the Southern border, tightening the asylum process, enforcing existing law, and better distinguishing between economic migrants and true refugees.
Another expert in the field and longtime activist for increased controls over migration flows into the United States, William Gheen with Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, also slammed the UN efforts.
“The American public should resist these United Nations programs because they are designed to facilitate and increase harmful third world legal and illegal immigration into America and Europe as part of a wider plan to overwhelm our nations and force Americans into a global form of government which will be dominated by China,” he argued.
National identity, borders, and the independence and freedom enjoyed by Americans are a major obstacle to “socialists, communists, global corporations, and robber baron billionaires who feel they should be able to rule and dictate by fiat,” he said.
However, by rapidly importing millions of people from abroad without an understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the United States is being “conquered” by what Gheen described as “fourth generational warfare backed by the UN.”
That is why it is so crucial for Americans and lawmakers to resist “amnesty” efforts currently being considered by the U.S. Senate.
A new but influential voice on the immigration policy scene, Angel Families of America Founder Agnes Gibboney, a legal immigrant whose son was killed by a previously deported illegal immigrant, also blasted UN efforts and mass migration into the United States.
“We are a sovereign nation and should decide our own laws, policies, and all aspects of our immigration, not foreign countries,” she said, adding that the UN “should not play any role in U.S. immigration policies.”
On a broader level, she told The Epoch Times that the United States could not solve the world’s problems by importing significant numbers of people from around the world.
“The problems in another country is where the problem needs to be solved, not in ours,” said Gibboney, whose family fled the communist regime in Hungary via Brazil before eventually finding their way to the United States legally.
“We don’t have resources to take care of the current migration crisis,” she added, calling on Congress to decline participation in UN immigration programs and agreements.
Congress is currently working on several major overhauls of U.S. immigration law that would bring U.S. policy more in line with the UN’s vision, including providing amnesty to the estimated 15 million or more illegal immigrants already in the United States.
The Biden administration did not respond to requests for comment on its position.