Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.People leaving the country during the first three weeks of the conflict.
Along with the historic exodus of most women and childrenReflecting the plight of both citizens in Ukraine and I has sparked a global uproar.
In Europe, a range of liberal and conservative governments, some currently pursuing hard-line border policies for migrants from the Middle East, have welcomed displaced Ukrainians with open arms.
Here in America, the refugee crisis has raised an important question: Will America offer asylum to Ukrainians fleeing Europe’s largest conventional war in decades?
Will America accept Ukrainian refugees?
WhileImmigration policy experts said in early March that the U.S. should welcome them “with open arms,” saying the U.S. would not accept large numbers of Ukrainian refugees in the near future.
As of March 18, most Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring countries – about 2 million of them have gone to Poland. Millions of people have also fled to other European countries including Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, Russia, Romania and Germany.
Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former Homeland Security (DHS) immigration official, said many refugees may seek to live in Europe near Ukraine if they have the opportunity to return in the near future. That calculation could change, he said, depending on how long the dispute lasts.
“We don’t know how many people who leave Ukraine will want to seek permanent resettlement,” Cardinal Brown, now an immigration and border policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told CBS News. “A lot depends on the results of what’s going on there now.”
On March 4, the European Union gave its consent. Temporary Safety Directive For Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, all 27 member states have agreed to provide them with other benefits such as short-term residence and work permits.
A State Department spokesman said the U.S. is prepared to resettle Ukrainians who have fled to third countries if “they cannot be kept safe in their current location,” but acknowledged that “this is not an immediate process.” Is.”
The US refugee process, which includes interviews, security screening, medical tests and other bureaucratic steps, takes years to complete. Under US law, asylum seekers must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, nationality, religion, political or social group membership.
A State Department spokesman said the U.S. refugee processing center in Kyiv — which typically processes refugees from Eurasia to the U.S. — is continuing “limited operations” from Chisinau, Moldova.
What other avenues do Ukrainians have to come to the US?
Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion can come to the U.S. through other means, but currently they need visas to enter legally and the routes are limited.
The U.S. grants temporary visas to tourists, students, business travelers, and other short-term visitors, and immigrant visas to people who are allowed to come to the U.S. permanently because they were sponsored by U.S. family members or employers.
After the State Department suspended visa processing in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus announced On March 1, citizens of Ukraine can apply for a temporary visa at any US consulate. It also designated the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany as the processing center for Ukrainian immigrant visa applications.
But visa seekers will face Long wait times Due to limited processing capacity at US consulates and A growing backlog of applications that had increased due to the pandemic. They may not even be able to prove eligibility for a temporary visa, as they require proof that applicants intend to return to their country of origin.
U.S. officials have an option called parole that allows them to admit aliens who do not have humanitarian visas. Parole was used last year to resettle more thanAfter the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan.
Cardinal Brown, a former DHS official, said the U.S. could use parole to admit some displaced Ukrainians, such as family members of U.S. citizens and green card holders. Unlike refugee status, parole does not put recipients on a path to U.S. permanent residency, but it can allow them to work legally.
Cardinal Brown argued that expanding legal pathways for Ukrainians would discourage illegal immigration.
“If there are a lot of Ukrainians who want to come to the U.S. and we haven’t provided the means to do that, we’re going to find more of them trying to come illegally,” he said of the recent increase. Referring said. U.S. authorities crack down on Ukrainians along the Mexican border.
In the first four months of fiscal year 2022, which began in October, 1,301 immigrants from Ukraine entered U.S. custody along the southern border, compared with 676 arrests in fiscal year 2021. DHS data show.
Has the US resettled Ukrainian refugees before?
Yes. Since fiscal year 2001, the United States has welcomed more than 50,000 refugees from Ukraine, which has been the largest European source of U.S. refugee admissions for the past two decades. Government figures show..
In February, 427 Ukrainians entered the United States as refugees, a 390 percent increase from January.
The number of Ukrainians resettled by the U.S. has risen sharply under President Trump, whose dramatic cuts to the refugee program have largely driven refugees from war-torn Africa and the Middle East. Restricted the entry of refugees.
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 Lutenberg Amendment are not required to prove that they may face persecution on an individual basis. Today, the decades-old law benefits mostly Protestant Christians.
What steps has the US already taken?
The Biden administration has so far approved $107 million in humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees and citizens. According to white housethe funds are intended to provide food, medical services, thermal blankets and other assistance to people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.
A large government spending bill was approved by Congress in early March. 6.8 billion dollars In US humanitarian aid funds for Ukrainian refugees.
On March 3, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyerkas announced that an estimated 75,100 Ukrainians are in the United States.(TPS), a humanitarian program that allows beneficiaries to legally live and work in the United States while their home countries are experiencing war or other crises.
Only Ukrainians who were in the U.S. as of March 1 are eligible for the 18-month TPS program.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also announced on March 3 that it would temporarilyDue to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ICE also suspended deportations to Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Slovakia.
Advocacy groups have also asked DHS will provide special student relief to approximately 1,700 Ukrainians attending U.S. schools, reducing their course load requirements and allowing them to work.
On March 11, US border officialsConsider exempting Ukrainians from the Trump-era pandemic ban so they can enter the country to seek asylum. Other migrants continue to be deported under border restrictions, known colloquially. .