U.S. quits talks on global migration pact over sovereignty clash

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States has quit negotiations on a voluntary pact to deal with migration because the global approach to the issue was “simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks for a bid to renew an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council at the United Nations headquarters in New York, U.S., November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

In a statement released late on Saturday, the U.S. mission to the U.N. noted that President Donald Trump made the decision.

“No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue,” said Haley, whose parents are immigrants from India. “But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone.”

“We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country,” she said.

Trump campaigned last year on a promise to deport large numbers of immigrants and build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico to help tackle illegal immigration and crime in the United States. Since he took office in January, he has also moved to ban U.S. entry by people from select Muslim countries.

With a record 21.3 million refugees globally, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly adopted a political declaration in September last year in which they also agreed to spend two years negotiating the pact on safe, orderly and regular migration.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration backed the resolution, known as the New York Declaration, which also asked U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi to propose a global compact on refugees for adoption in 2018.

“The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty,” Haley said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regretted the U.S. decision, his spokesman said on Sunday, but expressed hope the United States might re-engage in the talks.

“The positive story of migration is clear: it needs to be better told. Equally, the challenges it throws up need to be tackled with more determination and greater international coordination,” U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Three days of preparatory talks begin in Mexico on Monday ahead of the start of formal negotiations in February over the non-binding pact.

Haley’s predecessor Samantha Power mocked the U.S. move.

“How to further insult your Mexican neighbor, turn your back on humanity’s most desperate, and make America irrelevant on a hugely destabilizing global crisis in one easy step,” she posted on Twitter.

While former U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said on Twitter: “On migration, national solutions logically do not exist ... Going it alone is a lose-lose proposition.”

(The story was refiled to correct the name of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to Filippo Grandi from Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein in paragraph 7)

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Lisa Shumaker