UN ‘Networks’ to Facilitate Migration Stir Concern

March 31, 2021 Updated: April 6, 2021

The United Nations’ role in immigration policy is growing worldwide with the establishment of a U.N. “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 U.N. networks, which are led by a coalition of U.N. agencies, exist to support the implementation of the controversial Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) adopted by the U.N. and over 150 of its member states in December 2018.

Among other goals, the global agreement aims to facilitate the expansion of what the U.N. describes as “regular migration,” providing more legal pathways for would-be immigrants seeking to resettle in wealthier countries such as the United States.

While the U.S. government hasn’t been formally involved in the U.N. 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,” Florence Kim, communications coordinator for the U.N. Network on Migration, told The Epoch Times.

“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 reconsidering all the discussions, and they are willing to participate much more in these forums,” said Kim, who serves as a spokesperson for the U.N. effort.

The U.S. State Department didn’t respond to phone or email requests by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.

The U.N.’s refugee agency said it already “works closely with U.S. government agencies and [non-governmental organizations] responsible for resettling refugees in the U.S.” It added 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 Trump administration rejected U.S. involvement in the U.N.’s signature immigration effort to date, the GCM. Numerous governments in Europe and beyond followed suit.

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden at the White House on March 18, 2021. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

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 U.N. official told The Epoch Times.

The growing U.N. 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 migration networks and the U.N.’s 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 world body 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,” Mehlman told The Epoch Times in a phone interview, echoing widespread concerns among immigration-policy advocates about the U.N.’s efforts to get more involved.

UN Pleased With Biden’s Actions

So far, the Biden administration hasn’t publicly made any concrete moves to join the U.N. Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration which was rejected by Biden’s predecessor.

However, the administration’s actions on the issue have been praised by the U.N. 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 U.N. 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 U.N. IOM said in reference to Biden’s orders increasing the cap on refugees to over 120,000 per year from less than 20,000.

The U.N. flag in front of their German headquarters in Bonn, Germany, on July 11, 2006. (Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)
The U.N. flag in front of their German headquarters in Bonn, Germany, on July 11, 2006. (Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

The U.N. 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 reads.

As soon as Biden took office, the U.N. suggested that the U.S. government should reengage in the U.N.’s international efforts on global migration.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, for example, 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 U.N.’s top refugee official, 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 U.N. 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 U.N.’s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants that eventually led to the GCM negotiated at a December 2018 summit in Morocco.

President Donald Trump blasted the effort. Indeed, a forceful statement released by the 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 U.N. deal.

Trump visits border
President Donald Trump participates in a ceremony commemorating the 200th mile of border wall at the international border with Mexico in San Luis, Ariz., on June 23, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

“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,” it stated, adding that the U.S. government would maintain the sovereign right to control its borders.

Beyond that, the Trump administration said the efforts represented an attempt by the U.N. “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 U.N. 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 didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment about the State Department’s current position.

Numerous other governments that declined to participate also warned that the U.N. 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 U.N. 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,” Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said at the time. “That can and must not be the case.”

Other European leaders warned that the U.N.’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 U.N. deal.

GCM Via Backdoor?

However, even without having supported the U.N. GCM, its policies and objectives are quietly being implemented in nations where authorities rejected the agreement.

Without naming specific governments, U.N. Network on Migration Communications Coordinator Kim told The Epoch Times that most of the governments that declined to participate or approve the U.N. 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,” said Kim, who works at the U.N.’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 U.N. 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 U.N. agencies through the Network for Migration,” Kim said, adding that the Mexican government served as “co-facilitator of the negotiations.”

Epoch Times Photo
Illegal immigrants listen to instructions at an outdoor Border Patrol processing center under the Anzalduas International Bridge after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico near Mission, Texas, on March 23, 2021. (John Moore/Getty Images)

“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.

“The fact that Mexico can be supported by the U.N. in protecting migrants leaving or crossing can have an impact on the United States.

“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,” she said.

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 said. “This will benefit the whole population.”

UN Migration Networks

As part of the implementation of the GCM, the U.N. has set up “Migration Networks” in about 40 countries so far. Most recently, the U.N. announced the creation of a network in Iraq, one of the nations sending large numbers of migrants into the West.

In a statement, a deputy special representative of Guterres said the network would coordinate U.N. support to “improve migration governance in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also referred to as U.N. Agenda 2030, represent a comprehensive global effort to reform governance and the economy to be more in line with what the U.N. considers to be sustainable.

The Chinese Communist Party boasted that it played a “crucial role” in the SDG plan, which U.N. leaders said represents a “master plan for humanity” that will “transform our world.”

Leading the networks are a number of key U.N. agencies, including several that are run by Chinese officials loyal to Beijing.

Kim, the U.N. spokesperson for the migration networks, said the goal is to try to pool its expertise in supporting governments in the implementation of the U.N. 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 said, adding that a trust fund run by the U.N. network was supporting migration-related projects around the world.

In addition to the nine U.N. agencies on the executive board and the dozens of entities involved are hundreds of “civil society” organizations, Kim said.

Migrants
Unaccompanied minors are loaded into a U.S. Border Patrol transport van after crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, in Hildalgo, Texas, on March 25, 2021. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Among the priorities of the U.N. agency are ending the detention of what Kim described as “irregular migrants,” known more commonly in the United States as illegal immigrants or aliens.

When 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 U.N.’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,’” she said. “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 that 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 U.N. 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 U.N. migration programs and further expand legal avenues for immigration, critics have sounded the alarm.

FAIR media director Mehlman told The Epoch Times the U.N. shouldn’t 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,” Mehlman said. “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.”

He also argued that the governments pushing increased global migration via the U.N. 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.

Epoch Times Photo
The U.S. Capitol, seen through barbed wire fencing at sunrise, in Washington on Feb. 8, 2021. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

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 U.N. 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 said.

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’s 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 alien, also blasted U.N. 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 U.N. “should not play any role in U.S. immigration policies.”

On a broader level, she told The Epoch Times that the United States wouldn’t solve the world’s problems by importing significant numbers of people from around the world.

“The problems in another country … [that other 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 said, calling on Congress to decline participation in U.N. 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 U.N.’s vision, including providing amnesty to the estimated 15 million or more illegal aliens already in the United States.

The Biden administration didn’t respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.