Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday formally ratified a global pact to improve the world's response to migration flows, an agreement from which the United States withdrew in 2017, officials announced.
The endorsement of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration comes nine days after leaders from a 164 countries adopted the pact. It 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.
"With the endorsement of the Global Compact For Migration, we have before us an historic opportunity to cooperate, to exchange good practices and to learn from each other, so that migration, as a phenomenon that has marked the history of humanity, will benefit us all," U.N. General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa said in a tweet.
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."
Other countries that backed out included Australia, Hungary, Austria, Latvia, Poland and the Dominican Republic.
Belgium's support of the pact cost Prime Minister Charles Michel his post Tuesday. He offered his resignation to King Philippe after opposition members called for a no-confidence vote. A key party in his coalition, the New Flemish Alliance, withdrew support for him over his views on immigration.
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.
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