US President Donald Trump‘s administration said it was withdrawing the US from an international pact aimed at improving global migration and refugee issues, prompting criticism from the United Nations.
The US has been a part of the non-binding New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants since it was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly last year.
The declaration called for negotiations on a Global Compact for Migration, aimed at protecting the rights of refugees and migrants and helping them resettle.
It also seeks to fight xenophobia, racism and discrimination towards refugees and migrants.
But late on Saturday, US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the declaration’s “approach is simply not compatible with US sovereignty” and that the US will instead define its own migration plan.
“No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue,” Haley said in a statement.
“But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone,” she added.
“We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country.”
The UN General Assembly president said he was disappointed with the decision.
“I regret [the] US decision to disengage from [the] process leading to a UN global compact on migration,” Miroslav Lajcak tweeted after the decision was announced.
His spokesperson said in a statement that the “role of the United States in this process is critical as it has historically and generously welcomed people from all across the globe and remains home to the largest number of international migrants in the world”.
He added that the US “has the experience and expertise to help ensure that this process leads to a successful outcome”.
Trump has been under fire by many rights groups for his policies towards refugees since taking office.
In January, he signed an executive order that temporarily banned Syrian refugees from entering the country. The move was challenged in the courts and later revised to include all refugees.
In October, the ban ended, but the White House announced that the US would temporarily delay processing for refugees from 11 “high-risk” countries.
The refugees and migration compact is the fourth initiative the United States has withdrawn from this year.
In August, Trump said he was pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement.