In 2018 the Global Compact on Refugees followed the adoption of the New York Declaration for refugees and migrants under the Resolution A/RES/71/1 in October 2016. The Compact emphasized the need for more significant support for refugees and their host- countries by the UN member states and urges the private sector to support the entrepreneur skills of a refugee. It creates a new framework for international law-making that shapes the behavior of countries and imposes new norms as a foundation for self-regulating international law and human rights.
The Trump administration walked away from the Compact and chose to adjudge it as “inconsistent with the US immigration policy,” officials from the US Mission to the UN stated. Does it sound like a view of the twisted world order when one of the most powerful UN members turns its back to one of the most devastating crises in the world? Sometimes skepticism works hand-in-hand with a political attitude that is centered around what is the best for US national interests. So what is the resettlement policy that fits US interests?
Following a referral by the UNHCR, thousands of refugees and asylum seekers come for possible resettlement to the US every year due to the political oppression, war conflicts and well-founded fear of persecution in their countries. In the 2017 year alone out of all the applications that the US Citizenship and Immigration received just 19% of applicants were granted asylum, while the rest 81% are staying either in detention centers or trying to make ends meet while an appeal against the decision which can take years. Newly arrived people have expectations that the US is a land of freedom where their rights will be protected, and justice will take place. Sadly, on the ground, they are faced with the fact that the resettlement program is not welcoming to everyone, and they are not aware of what they are eligible for in the US. Considering these circumstances, refugees and asylum seekers are heavily reliant on humanitarian support from Church Charities, NGOs and civil society organizations.
Across different countries the resettlement of refugees has different strategies and approaches. In the US, there is an emphasis on “early employment.” The idea is that when refugee resettles, the US government wants to get them to the workforce as quickly as possible, and typically they target to 90 days within the arrival. In other countries such as Canada, employment is delayed. The logic behind it is that they want to position people to acquire a new language, to credential or develop new skills for the job market and then within a year to transition to the workforce.
The US has built resettlement architecture that does an excellent job of getting people into employment opportunities early in theory. However, in reality, none of the newly arrived foreigners can meet such a high standard of this resettlement policy. In contrast to the US, the state-assisted Canadian approach to resettlement is a successful example of how the community helps in the process of integration. It started as an initiative from the Canadian government in 1978 in partnership with the UNHCR. Ever since the program started, it has been supportive of more than 200,000 refugees. Furthermore, the officials are continually working on inclusion and more involvement of the refugees in framing their own experience in the resettlement program. This initiative established three types of private sponsors in Canada that has considerable success in maintaining public support and was more resultative in resettling and integrating refugees.
There are no simple tasks or solutions to tackle the refugee resettlement crisis because it is a multidimensional and complicated process that takes the will of the governments. Although persisting efforts of the UN creating a platform for the member states to create and unanimously agree on the initiatives such as the Compact, unemployment, and homelessness among refugees and asylees throughout the US has continued to persist and rise. Consequently, the DHS is a responsible authority and crucial in providing constitutional protection to the country’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities
The Compact should not be a bunch of words in the resolution adopted by the General Assembly, but represent the shared understanding of political commitment to protect the rights of refugees with the list of specific goals for all the member states. Canada proceeds to march in front of other UN member states providing a solution to the resettlement crisis with more than 10,000 refugees admitted through the private sponsors and the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in the 2018 year alone. It should be seen as a normative and successful example in addition to the development opportunity in international refugee law and access to their constitutional protection.