The United Nations human rights chief has warned that U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration policies could lead to collective expulsions of migrants that would amount to a breach of international law.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on March 8 that he was also concerned about the new U.S. policy banning entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, announced on March 6 after Trump's initial executive order on immigration was blocked in the courts.
In an annual speech to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid said the policy would greatly increase the number of migrants at immediate risk of deportation, regardless of the number of years spent in the United States or family roots.
"Expedited deportations could amount to collective expulsions and refoulement, in breach of international law, if undertaken without due process guarantees, including individual assessment," Zeid said, referring to the UN Refugee Convention, which prohibits the forcible return of people who are fleeing war, violence, or persecution.
Zeid added that was particularly concerned about the impact of children "who face being detained, or may see their families torn apart."
He said that greater leadership was needed to tackle rising discrimination, anti-Semitism, and violence against ethnic and religious minorities in the United States.
"Vilification of entire groups such as Mexicans and Muslims, and false claims that migrants commit more crimes than U.S. citizens, are harmful and fuel xenophobic abuses," Zeid said.
The UN human rights chief also said he was "dismayed" by what he said were Trump's attempts to "intimidate or undermine" journalists and judges.