Beware of Immigration Provisions in International Agreements

By Dan Cadman on May 8, 2018

My colleague Nayla Rush recently wrote about the draft United Nations (UN) Global Compact on Refugees that is being considered by members of that body, including the United States.

As Rush pointed out, although the U.S. withdrew from the companion Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, it has not yet done so with the Global Compact on Refugees, even though there are cogent reasons to do so before its formal consideration in September of this year.

Nations should always be cautious about ceding their sovereign alternatives — especially as regards immigration in any form — in the context of bilateral, multilateral, or international treaties. Doing so can have significant adverse impact on their foreign and domestic policies.

One example of that is NAFTA, which the Trump administration is renegotiating with Canada and Mexico. Embedded in the lesser-known portions of the NAFTA treaty are provisions for "TN" visas under U.S. law that have allowed thousands of Mexicans and Canadians entry into the United States. As Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) recently noted in an op-ed:

Depending on who you believe, Congress may actually not be able to modify TN visas in any way, or strengthen screening and vetting requirements. In addition, because TN visas are issued pursuant to NAFTA treaty authorities, the Department of Homeland Security does not have oversight or control over these visas. This means people other than our own homeland security experts are authorizing foreign nationals into our country. This is both an affront to sovereignty and a significant national security blind spot. [Emphasis in the original.]

A similar stealth worker provision hidden in the folds of the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, once discovered, was one of the key objections that ultimately doomed its ratification by the Senate in 2015.

Now consider some of the problematic language in this new global refugee compact that Rush has pointed out in her blog:

[R]esettlement is ... a tangible mechanism for burden- and responsibility-sharing, allowing States to help share each other's burdens.


[The Compact would] expand the criteria for family reunification to include extended family members who would not otherwise be eligible under existing mechanisms. [Emphasis added.]

In other words, this compact is not truly about refugees or asylees as defined in existing international protocols. It is a means of shifting around hundreds of thousands of aliens who arrive on the shores and land borders of countries by illegal means, and permitting them to resettle into other countries as dictated by the UN and its subordinate agencies without regard to domestic immigration laws and policies of the receiving state.

One suspects that, given the authority that a signed compact would deliver to it, the UN (never known for subtlety to begin with), would use a heavy hand to compel member nations — not least among them, the United States and other developed countries — to accept such transfers pursuant to their "burden sharing" obligations.

By way of example, consider the conduct of the supra-national European Union (EU) toward its member states. In the past three years, it has been forced to confront a disastrous influx of 1.5 million (and climbing) "irregular" arrivals instigated by the foolish words of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (see here and here). The result has been terrorism, instability, increased crime, and acknowledged no-go zones in urban pockets heavily dominated by unassimilated populations of immigrants.

And how has the EU reacted? With increasingly heavy-handed threats against those nations that have resisted its attempts to force them to share Germany's burden, even though it was Germany's chancellor who triggered the human tidal wave. Its latest move is to declare its intent to withhold critical infrastructure and other key funding to the recalcitrant holdouts because they apparently value their sovereignty over the EU's self-declared "shared values".

There is no reason to think the UN would comport itself otherwise. It is not, after all, a model of transparency or uprightness in such matters.

It is past time for the State Department to declare to the UN, through Ambassador Haley, our intent to withdraw from this global compact so that we as a nation may determine our own future where refugee and "irregular migrant" vetting and admissions are concerned.

Topics: Refugees