As the dust settles on the U.N. Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, pro-immigrant groups begin to realize the limitations and the unintended consequences of this hollow agreement.
Washington D.C – The non-binding global pact that was formally approved in Marrakech, Morocco, on Dec. 11, ignores labor shortages in Europe, ducks the subject of orderly legal immigration, fuels existing fears of “brown” migrants invading “white” Europe, and would not protect the lives and rights of refugees.
To the contrary, “Marrakech” has become, and will remain, a call to arms for right wing, anti-immigrants and nationalist groups across Europe to mobilize their supporters and sympathizers. Rightwing populists are already inflaming voters by claiming that the new pact gives the United Nation influence over Europe’s immigration policy and weakens individual European nations’ sovereign authority.
This non-binding pact is more of a feel-good gesture and less of an effective policy. It is not worth the risk of creating an electoral marketing literature and a propaganda tool for the far-right to use as rallying cry to garner votes for every upcoming elections in Europe.
The agreement that was signed by 164 nations will likely by exploited by some political groups to spread misinformation and push local anti-immigrant agendas, which may in turn concede national and regional electoral victories for the Right all across Europe.
It is hard to see how this document tackles the status of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants currently living in legal limbo in countries that are signatory to the pacts. What about the fate of thousands of immigrants stuck in Libya and Morocco?
Furthermore, the Pact gives false hope to future migrants and suggests that the passage to the European shores is easier and safer now. Similarly, it offers anti-immigrants groups a proof that the U.E. and the U.N. do not care about European citizens.
Marrakech is the best thing that recently happened to the right wing establishment in Europe at a time when immigration is a hot issue in several key races across the continent. It will play well with some domestic audiences that are not necessary xenophobe but rather economically weary.
The Far-right in Austria, France, Italy, Spain and many Est-European nations will greatly benefits from this debate. The Pact may in fact provoke the fall of some coalition governments, as it happened in Belgium, and escalates existing political tensions in countries that ratified it.
Since any nation can withdraw from the Pact at any time for any reason, it was politically reckless of the signatory members to include language vis-à-vis opening up legal migration. Such actions elevate anti-immigrant rhetoric, when in fact there is no real chance in the current political climate for any agreement that would ensure that people attempting cross-border journeys could do it in a legal and safe manner.
The Unites State is a prime example on how a government turnover can lead to a change in position. The U.S. under President Barack Obama supported the 2016 draft declaration but the Trump administration rejected the final version and took the lead in encouraging others to snub Marrakech.
With Marrakech looming large in the background, countries will continue bickering over how to manage migration giving the right a political advantage as the recent notable win of the anti-immigrant Vox party in Spain’s regional elections clearly demonstrate.
It is true that to no one country can manage the migration flow around the world; however, a bureaucratic document with no legal teeth is not the answer at this specific time.*