Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered the fastest refugee exodus crisis in Europe since World War II More than 2.5 million to flee the country during the first two weeks of the conflict.
The historical mass exodus of women and children was often associated with horrific pictures Depicting the plight of both civilians in Ukraine and refugees at neighbouring countriesIt sparked a worldwide outcry.
In Europe, a host of liberal and conservative governments, including some that implement tough border policies toward immigrants from the Middle East, have welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms.
Here in the US, the refugee crisis has raised a major question: Will America provide sanctuary to Ukrainians fleeing Europe’s largest conventional war in decades?
Will the United States accept Ukrainian refugees?
While President Biden said Migration policy experts said Friday that the United States should welcome them “with open arms” and likely not take in large numbers of Ukrainian refugees in the near future.
As of March 11, most of the Ukrainian refugees fled to neighboring countries, 1.5 million of them to Poland, 225 thousand to Hungary and 176 thousand to Slovakia. Tens of thousands have also crossed the borders into Russia, Romania and Moldova. Another 282,000 left for other European countries, including Germany.
Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former immigration official for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said many refugees may seek to stay in Europe, near Ukraine, if there is a chance to return in the near future. She said that calculation could change, depending on how long the conflict lasts.
“We don’t know how many Ukrainians who are leaving now would want permanent resettlement,” Cardinal Brown, now an immigration and border policy analyst at the Center for Bipartisan Politics, told CBS News. “A lot depends on the outcome of what’s happening there now.”
On March 4, the European Union authorized a Temporary preventive guidance For Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, all 27 member states agreed to give them short-term residency and other benefits, such as a work permit.
A State Department spokesman said the United States was open to resettling Ukrainians who fled to third countries if “they cannot be protected in their current location”, but acknowledged it was “not a quick process”.
The asylum process in the United States, which includes interviews, security checks, medical checks and other bureaucratic steps, takes years to complete. Under US law, refugees must demonstrate that they have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, nationality, religion, politics, or membership in a social group.
A US State Department spokesperson said the US Refugee Application Processing Center in Kyiv – which usually processes refugees bound for the US from Eurasia – is continuing “limited operations” from Chisinau, Moldova.
What other avenues should Ukrainians come to?
Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s attack can come to the United States through other means, but they currently require a visa to enter legally and pathways are limited.
The United States grants temporary visas to tourists, students, business travelers, and other short-term visitors, and immigrant visas to those permitted to move to the United States permanently because they were sponsored by American family members or employers.
After the suspension of visa processing in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announce Last week, Ukrainians could apply for a temporary visa at any US consulate. It also designated the US Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany, as the processing center for Ukrainian immigrant visa applications.
But he will face visa applicants Long waiting times Because of the limited processing capacity in US consulates and growing accumulation One of the applications exacerbated by the epidemic. They may also not be able to prove eligibility for temporary visas, as these require proof that applicants intend to return to their home country.
US officials have a power known as parole that allows them to accept foreigners who do not have visas on humanitarian grounds. Parole was used last year to resettle more than 70,000 Afghans evacuated After the Taliban reoccupied Afghanistan.
Cardinal Brown, a former Department of Homeland Security official, said the US could use parole to accept some displaced Ukrainians, such as family members of US citizens and green card holders. Unlike refugee status, parole does not put recipients on the path to permanent residence in the United States, but it can allow them to work legally.
Cardinal Brown said expanding legal pathways for Ukrainians would discourage illegal immigration.
She said, citing the recent increase in Ukrainians being treated by US officials along the Mexican border.
In the first four months of fiscal year 2022, which began in October, 1,029 immigrants from Ukraine entered US custody along the southern border, compared to a total of 676 arrests in fiscal year 2021, DHS data appears.
Has the United States ever resettled Ukrainian refugees?
Yeah. Since fiscal year 2001, the United States has accepted more than 50,000 refugees from Ukraine, which has been the largest European source of American refugee admissions for the past two decades, Show government numbers.
Last month, 427 Ukrainians entered the US as refugees – a 390% increase from January.
The number of Ukrainians resettled by the United States has increased sharply under President Trump, whose dramatic cuts to the refugee program have primarily limited admissions of potential refugees from countries in Africa and the Middle East beset by war and ethnic strife.
Ukrainian refugees have traditionally entered the United States through a special program created in 1989 to assist members of religious minorities in former Soviet republics with immediate family members in the United States.
Unlike other refugees, those admitted under the Lautenberg Amendment do not have to prove that they would face persecution on an individual basis. Today, Protestant Christians mostly benefit from the decades-old law.
What actions has the United States already taken?
The Biden administration has so far authorized $107 million in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees and civilians. according to White HouseThe funds are designed to provide food, medical services, thermal blankets and other relief items for people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.
The massive government spending bill passed by Congress this week will allocate $6.8 billion In US humanitarian aid funds for Ukrainian refugees.
On March 3, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mallorcas introduced an estimated 75,100 Ukrainians into the United States Eligible for Temporary Protection Status (TPS), a humanitarian program that allows recipients to legally live and work in the United States while their home countries suffer wars or other crises.
Only Ukrainians who have been in the United States as of March 1 are eligible for the 18-month TPS program.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also announced on March 3 that it is temporary Deportations halted to Ukraine due to the Russian invasion. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also suspended deportations to Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia and Slovakia.
Advocacy groups have also asked DHS will grant an estimated 1,700 Ukrainians studying in American schools with special student relief, which will reduce course load requirements and allow them to work.
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