UN Picks Socialist Over Trump's Evangelical Samaritan's Purse Selection to Head Migration Agency
The United Nations has elected Portuguese Socialist Antonio Vitorino as the new leader of the International Organization for Migration, its migration agency, rejecting the Trump administration's proposed candidate Ken Isaacs, who works at the Rev. Franklin Graham-led Samaritan's Purse.
Vitorino, a former EU commissioner for Home and Justice Affairs and who heads the "Notre Europe" think tank, is the next director-general of the U.N. body, which serves migrants by providing them with humanitarian aid, helping track deaths and at times resettling them.
In the secret ballot, Laura Thompson of Costa Rica, the deputy director of the IOM, came in second.
Vitorino, who succeeds the United States' William Lacy Swing after his two five-year terms, will take charge Oct. 1, according to a statement released by IOM Friday.
Vitorino was elected to Portugal's Parliament in 1980 and later held several public offices, including Minister for National Defence and Deputy Prime Minister within the government of António Guterres, who is now the U.N. Secretary General.
It's the second time that the U.N. migration body will be run by a non-American since 1951.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tried to garner support for Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations at Samaritan's Purse and who has previously served as director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance within the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In May, a statement by the White House press secretary said the Trump administration "strongly supports the candidacy of Ken Isaacs," as he "understands the ways of Washington and who can advocate most effectively for the IOM [and] continues to lead it as it seeks to fulfill its mission."
It quoted Vice President Mike Pence as saying: "Ken Isaacs is the type of leader we need at the helm of IOM. His depth of integrity, years of service, and record of results for suffering people speak volumes about his commitment to the improvement of people's lives all over the world. He understands the complexity of migration in a way that will bring value and excellence to the organization."
Isaacs, who is vice president of programs and government relations at Samaritan's Purse, previously served as director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance within the U.S. Agency for International Development.
In recent months he's garnered controversy for comments he's shared on Twitter.
"Tweets from Isaacs that had been highlighted since his Feb. 1 nomination stoked international opposition," PJ Media reports.
"Isaacs' tweets have included declaring "#Islam is not peaceful" and tweeting about the 2017 London Bridge attack, "If you read the Quran, you will know 'this' is exactly what the Muslim faith instructs the faithful to do." He's also said refugees were an asset because "refugees with other worldviews won't be the same as other immigrants," and said religious preferences should be shown in refugee treatment: "Refugees are 2 grps. Some may go back and some can't return. Christians can never return. They must be 1st priority," he tweeted," PJ media added.
Earlier this month, Haley announced that the U.S. is withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council body, calling it a "cesspool of bias" that fails to advocate for human rights.
"Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council," Haley said at the time. "The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape its scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in its ranks. … For too long the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias."
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested in a tweet at the time that a big part in the decision was the council's bias against Israel and favortism toward Palestinian protesters in Gaza. "Today the U.S. took a stand against some of the world's worst human rights violators by withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council," he wrote.