The Biden administration is accelerating the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in the United States

The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it is preparing to expedite the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in the United States.

President Joe Biden has announced the plan is ‘quick’ and ‘simplified’ to protect Ukrainians fleeing war from Russia, but will do so on a temporary basis and will require financial support from a US sponsor – drawing criticism of some refugee resettlement groups who have called for Ukrainians to receive more permanent refugee status.

The United States would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, Biden announced in Brussels last month, amid the growing refugee crisis in Europe since the end of World War II. Nearly 8 million Ukrainians have been displaced by war, the United Nations announced on Thursday.

Starting April 25, the administration says U.S.-based individuals and entities can apply to the Department of Homeland Security to sponsor Ukrainian citizens — in an operation dubbed “Uniting for Ukraine.”

Any US citizen or entity can apply to sponsor Ukrainians and will be required to declare their financial support and pass a background check. Administration officials said there is no limit to the number of Ukrainians a person or entity can sponsor.

PICTURED: President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees and aid workers during a visit to PGE Narodowy Stadium, March 26, 2022, in <a class=Warsaw.” class=”sRQoy DZhB kXXJS ” data-testid=”prism-image” draggable=”false” data-src=””/>

President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees and aid workers during a visit to PGE Narodowy Stadium, March 26, 2022, in Warsaw.

Evan Vucci/AP

“We are proud to deliver on President Biden’s commitment to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russian aggression to the United States. The people of Ukraine continue to suffer immense tragedy and loss as a result of the Putin’s unprovoked and unwarranted attack on his country,” the secretary of state said. Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “DHS will continue to bring relief to the people of Ukraine, while supporting our European allies who bore so much the outcome of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

The administration anticipates that a “vast majority” of Ukrainians using the program will already be applying through family in the United States, a senior administration official told reporters on Thursday.

But a group of nearly 70 Ukrainian-American community groups, religious organizations, refugee resettlement agencies and other nonprofits, backed by a $3.6 million donation from Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs, has also announced on Thursday that it would help US citizens sponsor Ukrainian refugees.

Ukrainians with a sponsor must meet certain conditions: to be a resident of the war-torn country since February 11 and to be up to date with their vaccinations. They will also be subject to background checks and biometric screening and other security checks, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Once in the United States, Ukrainians will have up to two years to be considered for parole, but officials said they expect the time in the United States to be short. The program will not provide a pathway to permanent residence in the United States

“What many of us have heard in the Eastern European region is that many Ukrainians don’t even want to go further east, from the bordering countries of Eastern Europe. ‘Is because it’s a situation where women and children are separated from their husbands, fathers, brothers, and so they are very keen to stay near Ukraine to come back as soon as possible,’ said a senior administrative official.

Administration officials told reporters on Thursday they hoped it would be a “simplified process” via an online portal where sponsors and Ukrainian nationals can both upload documents after being approved. .

They said they expected the process to be “pretty quick,” but didn’t offer an exact timeline.

Ukrainians who do not have a visa to enter the United States will be encouraged to apply for this program as they say it is the safest way to enter the United States, officials said.

In recent months, some Ukrainians seeking asylum in the United States have traveled to Mexico and arrived at the US-Mexico border – 3,274 in March alone, according to DHS data.

But the administration announced that after April 25, when the new parole program will be implemented, Ukrainians who present themselves at a border entry point will be denied entry into the United States as other nationalities.

Ukrainians “may be denied entry under our existing laws. As I think everyone knows, we continue to enforce public health authority under Title 42 at the land border until 23 [of May]. This will be the case for all nationalities,” said a senior administration official.

Title 42, the public health authority deployed by the Trump administration, deported migrants based on the COVID-19 pandemic, but Ukrainians had been largely exempted by DHS due to war with Russia .

But now, with the administration phasing out the policy on May 23, there are growing concerns about a sharp increase in migration to the southern border.

For Ukrainians fleeing violence but without sponsors in the United States, the administration said it was working with NGOs and nonprofits to connect people.

Welcome.US, a nonprofit created during the Kabul evacuation to help Afghans fleeing the Taliban, announced on Thursday that it was working alongside Ukrainian-American community organizations, refugee resettlement agencies and religious leaders to support the program.

With $3.6 million in funding from Goldman Sachs, the group will help US citizens who want to sponsor Ukrainians and allow people to donate to support local nonprofits helping Ukrainians or provide Airbnb miles or air to those traveling to the United States.

But some of these refugee resettlement groups are expressing concern about the administration’s plans, particularly the short-term legal status these Ukrainian refugees are getting and the requirement that sponsors take financial responsibility.

In doing so, the administration “outsources[ing] its moral obligation to support newly arrived Ukrainians. Without access to the traditional benefits of refugee resettlement, we urge policy makers to consider putting in place some semblance of a safety net for those rebuilding their lives from the ground up,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. LIRS is one of the largest relocation agencies in the United States, but is not involved in the Welcome.US program.

Other refugee groups have expressed concern that the administration is not doing enough to address systemic problems with the country’s refugee resettlement program. As part of Thursday’s announcement, the State Department will expand resettlement operations in Europe for Ukrainian refugees, helping up to 18,000 people resettle in Eastern European countries, including those considered most vulnerable such as the LGBTQ community.

But the resettlement program in the United States was decimated by the Trump era budget cuts and restrictions that refugee advocates say were onerous. While Biden has already announced big goals for refugee resettlement — including an admissions cap of 125,000 for this fiscal year — his administration is far from meeting those goals.

Midway through that fiscal year, they resettled 8,758 refugees — a fraction of that 125,000 goal — according to State Department data.

“Relying on temporary parole is like putting band-aids on open wounds. The administration cannot continue to waver from crisis to crisis without increasing the overall capacity for permanent protection in the United States,” he said. said Sunil Varghese, director of policy at the International Refugee Assistance Project, a legal advocacy group.

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