Trump Says Migration Has Changed Europe’s ‘Fabric,’ As UN Chief Calls It a ‘Positive Global Phenomenon’

By Patrick Goodenough | July 13, 2018 | 4:24am EDT
Trump and the other leaders of the 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization, at the summit in Brussels. (Photo: NATO)

( – Allowing “millions and millions” of migrants to enter Europe has changed its “fabric,” President Trump said Thursday, telling a mass-circulation British tabloid newspaper that unless the Europeans “act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was, and I don’t mean that in a positive way.”

“I think you are losing your culture,” Trump told The Sun in comments published on the day he arrived in Britain on his first presidential visit. “Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.”

Before leaving Brussels for London, the president told a press conference he had given his European counterparts at the NATO summit a warning on immigration.

“I made a point today – I said, you’ve got to stop. You’re ruining your – you’re going to have a lot of problems,” he said. “You see what’s going on throughout the world with immigration.”


Trump argued that the immigration issue was partly responsible for his election, for the recent election outcome in Italy, and for the British vote in 2016 to leave the European Union.

“I told them today, the E.U., the European Union, better be very careful, because immigration is taking over Europe, and they better be very, very careful,” he said. “And I said that loud and clear.”

Trump’s remarks on immigration came on the day U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking to reporters in New York, called migration “a positive global phenomenon” and hailed the U.N. General Assembly’s expected agreement Friday on a “global compact” on migration.

The non-binding agreement is set to be formally adopted at a U.N. conference in Morocco in December, a year after the Trump administration withdrew from the initiative. Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time the U.S. “simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders.”

Two “global compacts” in the works, one focusing on migration and the other on refugees, are the outcome of a 2016 U.N. summit’s consensus declaration that expressed countries’ political will to protect the rights of refugees and migrants and share the responsibility for doing so.

When the administration withdrew from the process, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said that declaration “contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies and the Trump administration’s immigration principles.”

Secretary-General António Guterres (Photo: United Nations)

In his press conference remarks on Thursday, Guterres acknowledged that “countries have the right and even the responsibility to determine their own migration policies, and to responsibly manage their borders.”

“But they must do so in full respect for human rights,” he added.

“Migration is a positive global phenomenon,” Guterres said. “Many aging developed countries need migrants to fill crucial gaps in labor markets. Climate change and other factors, including simple human aspiration, will continue to lead people to seek opportunity far from their homes.”

Shifting the focus from migrants to refugees, Guterres said the vast majority of refugees around the world were being hosted in developing countries which themselves face constraints.

“This responsibility must be shared globally,” he said, bemoaning the fact that refugees and migrants were often “demonized and attacked.”

Before becoming secretary-general, Guterres served at the U.N. high commissioner for refugees.

In response to a question, Guterres said he hoped the U.S. would rejoin the global compact process.

“Let’s not forget that United States is in itself a country of immigration,” he said.

According to International Organization for Migration (IOM) data, there were 257.7 million migrants around the world in 2017, with the United States accounting for the largest number by far, at 49.8 million, or 15.3 percent of the total U.S. population.

The United States’ migrant total has risen to 49.8 million from 44.2 million in 2010, 34.8 million in 2000 and 23.3 million in 1990.

In Europe (a region which in the IOM data includes Russia), there were 77.9 million migrants in 2017, with Germany accounting for the largest number, at 12.2 million, or 14.8 percent of the total German population.

Europe’s migrant total has risen to 77.9 million from 70.7 million in 2010, 56.3 million in 2000 and 49.2 million in 1990.

Globally, the number of migrants has risen to 257.7 million last year, from 220 million in 2010, 172.6 million in 2000 and 152.5 million in 1990.

When it comes to refugees, even with the sharp drop in admissions under the Trump administration the United States still admitted more refugees than any other single country last year.

A total of 33,368 refugees were resettled in the U.S. in calendar year 2017, out of a total 103,000 resettled worldwide, according to State Department and UNHCR figures.

By comparison, Canada resettled 27,000 (figures are rounded), Australia 15,000, Britain 6,000, Germany 3,000 and France 3,000.

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