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  • A U.S. Customs and Border Protection border patrol agent talks to people on the Mexican side of the border wall.

    A U.S. Customs and Border Protection border patrol agent talks to people on the Mexican side of the border wall. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 December 2018

The United States has come under fire for the Trump administration's xenophobic policies on refugees and immigration.

By a sweeping majority, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Global Compact on Refugees intended to improve efforts for managing significant refugee movements Monday. The United States and Hungary found themselves isolated as the only two nations to vote against the measure.

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The pact was approved by 181 countries. A similar measure on migration, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, had caused controversy within the U.N.

Neither pact is legally binding though they do offer guidance for how members of the international body can support refugees. For more than 60 years, the resolution has been approved by general consensus.

"In this world of ours which often turns its back to people in need — that has shamefully politicized even the pain of exile, that has demonized and continues to demonize refugees and migrants, and sometimes even just foreigners,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said, “this compact, in synergy with the other compact on migration, can really represent tangibly a new commitment to international cooperation."

The U.S. Trump administration has faced outrage and criticism for its cruel and harsh treatment of predominantly Central American migrants seeking to enter the U.S. from the border with Mexico, its decision to drastically reduce the amount of refugee applications it will accept for resettlement, as well as the country’s travel ban on persons from several Muslim-majority countries.

Oddly enough though, the U.S. has remained the largest single donor of the U.N. Refugee Agency with contributions amounting to over US$1.45 billion in 2017.

"I think that there is a fundamental commitment of the U.S. I would have hoped that they would support it institutionally, but in substance, I think that support will continue to be there," Grandi said.

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