Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Leaders from 164 countries adopted a global pact Monday to improve the world's response to migration flows, but the United States walked away.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration gives migrants access to basic services and aims to prevent human smuggling through anti-trafficking efforts. It also seeks to eliminate discrimination and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work and facilitate safe and dignified returns.
"The compact only reaffirms that migrants should enjoy human rights and independently of their status," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the start of a two-day conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Monday.
The United States did not support the non-binding pact, which has been in the works for two years. A year ago, the Trump administration said it was "inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies."
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time, "it is is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly and legal."
Other countries that backed out included Australia, Hungary, Austria, Latvia, Poland and the Dominican Republic.
The latest Gallup survey found that 15 percent of the world's adults, about 750 million people, would like to move to another country if they had the opportunity. The survey talked to 453,122 adults in 152 countries from 2015 to 2017. That's up from 13 percent between 2010 and 2012.
The United States remains the top destination for migrants.
The Trump administration took a stand against caravans of Central American migrants who arrived at the border in the last few weeks, deploying the military and threatening to close the border if the groups crossed. At one point, U.S. border officers used tear gas on migrants as they approached the border. Now, thousands of migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, have put their names on a list to start the political asylum process, which could take months.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel supports the pact.
"Migration is a natural phenomenon," Merkel said. "It happens all the time all over the world. If it happens legally, it's a good thing."
Guterres said 80 percent of migrants take safe, orderly routes but still risk death as they cross deserts, oceans and rivers. There's also the risk of falling in with human smugglers, he said.
"Whether their movement is voluntary or forced; and whether or not they have been able to obtain formal authorization for movement, all human beings must have their human rights respected and their dignity upheld," the United Nations head said. "To deny this, and to vilify any group of people, is the road to dehumanization and horror."
Experts say there are 258 million migrants seeking asylum worldwide -- 3 percent of the world's total population. The number could increase from population growth, trade, rising inequality and climate change.
Children of the migrant caravan
Albert Yared stands near the Greyhound Bus Station in downtown San Diego on Saturday. Albert traveled with his parents in the migrant caravan from Honduras hoping to seek asylum in the U.S., crossing from Tijuana to San Diego on December 21. They spent their first night in CBP custody, but are now wearing ankle bracelets and headed to Mississippi where they hope to begin their new lives. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A girl plays with a toy cart at Contra Viento y Marea shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on Sunday. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A boy from Honduras climbs the U.S. border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, with his family on Wednesday. U.S. Border Patrol officers took the family into custody in San Ysidro, Calif. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
The boy and his mother climb the fence. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A family from Honduras traveling with the migrant caravan gets ready to climb the fence in Tijuana, Mexico. Frustration has been growing in the last few weeks at the length of the asylum process so instead of continuing to wait some migrants are trying to climb the border fence. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A child from the caravan looks at the border fence from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, on Sunday. His face is lit by lights from the U.S. side so border agents can monitor illegal crossings at night. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Yeison (L), Johana, their 3-year-old son, Albert Yared, and Yeison's cousin Milson (R) traveled from Honduras with the migrant caravan. They were staying at the El Batteral shelter for families in Tijuana, Mexico, on Sunday. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Johana hugs her 3-year-old son, Albert Yared. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Children entertain themselves by watching a show on a cellphone at the El Barretal shelter. The shelter is an abandoned concert hall that has the capacity to house 7,500 people. It was about half full on Sunday. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Children who crossed illegally into San Ysidro, Calif., wait under detention from U.S. Border Patrol on December 2. With growing frustration at the length of the asylum process, a dozen migrants decided to jump the border fence that divides the U.S. and Mexico. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A mother and child sit in front of Benito Juarez shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on November 27. Researchers say children may be be hard hit
by the strain of the journey. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A boy watches rice and beans ladled up in a long line for food near the Benito Juarez shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on November 28. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Migrants wait in a long line for food. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Children play with toys outside the Benito Juarez shelter on November 27. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A mother cleans her daughter's shoe while sitting in a tent at the Benito Juarez shelter on November 27. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Marlene Trochez, 25, sits with her daughters, Melanie, 4, and Emily, 2, in a migrant camp in Tijuana, Mexico, near the U.S. border. The family fled Honduras
after gang members killed her brother for failing to pay extortion to protect their store. Photo by Patrick Timmons/UPI
Jeimi Gisela Mej’a Meza, 13, of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, displays a smoke canister
that was launched at her mother, Maria L’dia Meza Castro, 39, in Tijuana on November 25 as a group of migrants approached the U.S. border. Photo by Patrick Timmons/UPI.
A migrant woman clutches her baby moments before US. Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol officers fire tear gas and smoke grenades across the border and into Mexico near the San Ysidro Port of Entry on November 25. Photo by Patrick Timmons/UPI
A child looks through the border fence. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A group of friends from Honduras peer out from a shelter in Tijuana. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A couple and child look through the border fence into the United States. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Migrants, including children, wait in a long line for food near the Benito Juarez shelter. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A group of people sing near the shelter. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Children wait outside the Benito Juarez shelter on November 27. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A young girl waits in line for food in front of the Benito Juarez shelter on November 26. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Food is served to the families at the Benito Juarez shelter on November 26. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
A child attends a Christian service at the new migrant shelter in the eastern part of Tijuana, Mexico, in an area known as El Barretal, on Sunday. Keith Park (L) went to Tijuana with his wife and some volunteers from San Diego, Calif., donating food after their service. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Seven-year-old Hennessey, of Honduras, sits on a swing outside the Benito Juarez shelter on November 27. Hennessey is traveling with her family. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
People wait in line at the Red Cross tent, set up to assist migrants in contacting their families, in front of the Benito Suarez shelter on November 27. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
People wait in long lines for dinner in front of the Benito Juarez shelter on November 26. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Migrants, including a young boy, listen to a Christian service at the shelter. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
Members of the caravan passed through Matias Romero, in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca on November 1 on their way from Central America. File Photo by Luis Villalobos/EPA-EFE
A child wearing a superman cape talks t the volunteers at El Barretal shelter located in the eastern part of Tijuana, Mexico on December 9, 2018. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI