May 22, 2022

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Ukrainian refugees: Officials say US will accept up to 100,000 war escapees

Ukrainian refugees: Officials say US will accept up to 100,000 war escapees

Administration officials said they are still working on the details of how to accept the Ukrainians, but their goal is recognition As many as 100,000. They will be brought to the United States through a variety of legal pathways, including the traditional US refugee program as well as more flexible mechanisms such as “humanitarian parole,” which the Biden administration has used Tens of thousands of Afghans The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House, said over the past year during the Allies Welcome process.

Humanitarian conditional release provides newcomers with temporary work permits but is not a pathway to citizenship, unlike the official US refugee program, which carries more legal benefits and protections.

Biden has raised the number of refugees the United States is willing to accept to 125,000 this fiscal year, but his administration is on track to take in only 15,000 as a result of addressing the backlog and what officials describe as pandemic restrictions.

Getting Ukrainians on parole on humanitarian grounds or using other visa channels is likely to be faster. White House officials It did not provide a timetable for reaching the 100,000 target. They said some Ukrainians might stay temporarily until they can go home.

More than 3 million people were forced to flee from Ukraine; More than half of them are children. Their parents try to explain the war to them. (Zwain Murphy/The Washington Post)

Krish Umara Vinarajah, Lutheran Immigration and Refugees Chair, hailed the department’s announcement as an example of “global humanitarian leadership”.

She urged US officials to speed up processing of asylum applications and expedite family reunification visas that would allow Ukrainian-Americans to bring their relatives.

Almost a quarter of all Ukrainians resettled in the United States during that time, said Vignarajah, whose organization has settled around 5,000 Ukrainians over the past decade.

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Biden — who is in Brussels on Thursday and part of Friday for meetings with NATO, Group of Seven and European Union leaders — will also announce more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid for those affected by the war. The White House on Thursday announced more than $11 billion over the next five years to help address food security threats.

The arrival of 100,000 Ukrainians would be one of the largest resettlement operations in US history, but the number represents a relatively small portion of the more than 3.6 million displaced by the Russian invasion so far, according to the latest United Nations estimates.

These refugees were largely Ukrainian welcome In neighboring European countries, where the European Union issued a routing Allowing all Ukrainians to travel visa-free within the bloc as well as work, have access to public education, housing and health care for one year.

For comparison, he found refugees fleeing other conflicts, including in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen big obstacles To reach a safe haven in neighboring countries, and in Europe.

In recent weeks, hundreds of The Ukrainians traveled to Mexico, which does not require a visa, and then attempted to enter the United States at ports of entry along the southern border of the United States. US Customs and Border Protection allowed them entry on a “case-by-case basis” using conditional release on humanitarian grounds. Many of them appear to be joining relatives already living in the United States.

German Foreign Minister Annallina Barbock on Monday called on the West to establish an “air bridge” to help refugees flee.

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Barbock said she expects the upcoming effort to be the largest transfer since World War II. Despite the barrage of rockets and other artillery hitting every region of Ukraine, existing humanitarian corridors for Ukrainians to flee the country still operate.

A US official said the goal of US and European officials is to distribute the refugees across the West – including across the Atlantic – to avoid overburdening any single country. Another official said the US offer to take in 100,000 refugees evolved from a smaller number earlier in the week.

Poland, with a population of 38 million, has received more than two million displaced Ukrainians. The population of the United States is nearly nine times higher.

In a fact sheet describing the initiative, the White House said it was “working to expand and develop new programs with an emphasis on welcoming Ukrainians who have family members to the United States.”

“The United States and the European Union also closely coordinate to ensure that these efforts, and other forms of humanitarian admission or transfer, are complementary and provide much-needed support to Ukraine’s neighbors,” the document says.

The second part of Biden’s three-day trip, the stopover in Poland, will also focus on refugees. Poland, which shares a 330-mile border with Ukraine, So far I have absorbed The largest influx of fleeing UkrainiansAnd on Friday, Biden plans to hold an event in that country to address the refugee crisis, including a meeting with humanitarian aid experts.

Ukrainians have been so well represented in accepting refugees in the United States for several years that they became the third largest source of refugees accepted into the United States under President Donald Trump — a trend that refugee advocates and experts attribute to Cold War-era law that gives special preference to minorities. religious, including Protestant, from the former Soviet Union, and Trump’s greater hatred toward Muslim refugees and Muslim immigrants in general.

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The United States accepted more than 1,900 Ukrainian refugees during Trump’s final year in office — about 16 percent of the total number of refugees accepted.

By contrast, critics say, the United States has allowed in relatively few refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and other war zones. In the past 17 months — even before the conflict in Ukraine began, and as the Biden administration ended the 20-year war in Afghanistan — the United States accepted more Ukrainian refugees (1,495) than it had (1,005), according to State Department data.

Far more Afghans have immigrated to the United States overall in recent years, most of them on special immigrant visas – those intended for Afghans who worked at the US mission in Afghanistan.

The Biden administration also brought more than 76,000 Afghans to the United States after that Her chaotic exit from Afghanistan last summerBut refugee rights advocates have called on the government to do more. Advocates say tens of thousands of Afghans with ties to the United States have been left behind, and the vast majority of evacuees to the United States have been given only temporary protective status, such as humanitarian parole cases.

John Hudson in Washington contributed to this report.