The Latest: UN migration agency picks new, Portuguese leader

GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the U.N. migration agency’s rejection of (all times local):

4:00 p.m.

The U.N.’s migration agency has elected Portuguese Socialist Antonio Vitorino as its new leader after rejecting the Trump administration’s proposed candidate to head the body.

In a Friday statement, the International Organization for Migration says its next director-general edged out both a top IOM official and U.S. candidate Ken Isaacs.

Vitorino, 61, will become only the second IOM director-general not from the United States since the intergovernmental organization was founded in 1951. He was chosen over Isaacs, who was eliminated in early voting rounds, and by acclimation over the runner-up, Laura Thompson of Costa Rica — currently a deputy director-general of IOM.

Vitorino is a former EU commissioner for Home and Justice Affairs who’s been President of the “Notre Europe” think tank for the last seven years. 

IOM has over 10,000 staffers in offices in more than 150 countries. Its work has been pivotal in providing humanitarian aid to migrants, and helping track deaths of migrants across often deadly Mediterranean waters between northern Africa. It also helps in resettling migrants accepted by foreign countries — and at times returning them home.

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1:55 p.m.

The U.N.’s migration agency has rejected the Trump administration’s proposed candidate to head the body, a post previously held mostly by Americans since 1951.

Diplomats who took part in three rounds of voting Friday told the Associated Press that American Ken Isaacs was eliminated in the still-ongoing contest, now being led by Antonio Vitorino, a Portuguese Socialist, and the remaining candidate, IOM deputy director-general Laura Thompson of Costa Rica.

Senegalese diplomat Youssoupha Ndiaye, upon leaving the voting in Geneva, said: “the American is out.”

Isaacs’ candidacy had been clouded by U.S. policies like travel bans and migrant family separations — and his own comments that critics have called anti-Muslim.

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10:00 a.m.

The U.N.’s migration agency is electing its next director-general, a post long held by Americans. But the ambitions of the Trump administration’s favored candidate could be clouded by U.S. policies like travel bans and migrant family separations.

Dues-paying, ballot-casting members among the 172 in the International Organization for Migration are deciding among American Ken Isaacs, an executive with Christian humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse; IOM deputy director-general Laura Thompson of Costa Rica; and Antonio Vitorino, a Portuguese Socialist.

The winner will succeed longtime U.S. diplomat William Lacy Swing, who leaves in September.

An intergovernmental body that became a U.N.-related agency in 2016, IOM has had only one director-general who wasn’t American since its creation in 1951.

Aside from concerns about Trump policies, critics say Isaacs has made anti-Muslim posts on social media.

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