Over the weekend, the Trump administration withdrew from the process of developing a new Global Compact on Migration, designed to lay out a strategy for addressing that subject. The objective was to reach agreement by the time world leaders meet at their annual gathering in New York next September. The United States had been involved in the process since it was launched, via the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, at the United Nations last year.
While the administration’s decision is a regrettable abdication of leadership, the good news is that American cities are stepping up to join with their global peers and chart a stronger course for refugee policy. This week, Amman, Athens, Chicago, New York City, Paris, and Los Angeles along with eleven other cities from around the world submitted a letter to the High Commissioner for Refugees calling for a greater voice in that process.
The letter cites ideas submitted to the UN Refugee Agency, which is heading up the Refugee Compact process, by Brookings fellow Jessica Brandt, together with the International Rescue Committee and 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, in October of this year.
Those ideas include encouraging UNHCR to:
- Open up discussions on refugee policy and operations to municipalities from around the world that are receiving refugees.
- Ensure that the experiences of municipalities with substantial refugee populations inform the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.
- Create mechanisms to source and share innovative approaches to refugee reception and integration directly from and with cities.
- Engage regularly with municipal authorities.
Here is a copy of the letter:
List of Signatories:
Yousef Shawarbeh, Amman, Jordan
Giorgos Kaminis, Athens, Greece
Kasim Reed, Atlanta, USA
Ada Colau Ballano, Barcelona, Spain
Marvin Rees, Bristol, United Kingdom
Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, USA
Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia, USA
Mike Rawlings, Dallas, USA
Ann-Sofie Hermansson, Gothenburg, Sweden
Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, USA
Giuseppe Sala, Milan, Italy
Valérie Plante, Montreal, Canada
Bill de Blasio, New York City, USA
Anne Hidalgo, Paris, France
James Kenney, Philadelphia, USA
Jorge Elorza, Providence, USA
Immigrant Rights Commission, San Francisco, USA
"There are concerns that placing the [Israeli] embassy in Jerusalem would be a sign that the United States recognizes it as a part of Israel's sovereign territory, even though the position of the U.S. over the last 70 years or so is that Jerusalem is actually disputed territory, and that the status of it will have to be resolved through negotiations."
"I would be surprised if the State Department interpreted the Jerusalem Embassy Act as requiring it to break ground on a new embassy facility or take other such steps. The plain language of the statute only requires that the secretary of state determine and report to Congress that the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened."
"While positions within the international community vary, most foreign states have—like the United States—declined to take a position on who has sovereignty over Jerusalem and instead favor either negotiations to resolve this issue or international administration."