President Biden in March pledged to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians who have been displaced from their homes by Russia’s unprovoked invasion, which the United Nations had said was sparking the fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II. The Biden administration has now fulfilled that pledge in the span of roughly five months, CBS News said.
“The tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have set foot on U.S. soil since the February 24 invasion have arrived through various immigration channels and with different legal status, most of them with temporary permission to stay in the country, according to the government data,” CBS News reported.
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The report said that government data reveals nearly half, 47,000, arrived through temporary visas. Nearly 30,000 others arrived through Uniting for Ukraine, the private sponsorship program that CBS News said in June stood likely to “become the largest official private refugee sponsorship initiative in U.S. history.” At that time, more than 45,000 Americans had applied to sponsor a refugee. Since then, nearly 100,000 Americans have applied.
More than 22,000 other Ukrainians entered through the southern border, the report continued. Families were initially blocked by U.S. border agents under the debunked public health order implemented by noted racist Stephen Miller in 2020. The Department of Homeland Security would relatively quickly, the span of a week or so, tell U.S. border agents that they had discretion to exempt Ukrainians from the order.
The president fulfilling his pledge to accept 100,000 vulnerable Ukrainians is in keeping with the values our nation has frequently purported, but not always honored. While U.S. officials exempted tens of thousands of Ukrainians from Miller’s debunked public health order, the deportation of thousands of Haitian migrants only accelerated going into the spring, even as the U.S. State Department told Americans to not travel to the small nation.
“Do not travel to Haiti due to kidnapping, crime, and civil unrest. U.S. citizens should carefully consider the risks of traveling to, and remaining in, Haiti in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges,” a July release said [emphasis by the State Department]. Officials warned that U.S. personnel there should not even walk in Port-au-Prince and other neighborhoods.
“Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of nine national U.S. resettlement groups, applauded the administration's extensive effort to offer a safe haven to Ukrainians, but she said it illustrates that some immigrants are ‘benefiting from urgent action more than others,’” CBS News reported. U.S. senators have also notably called out the “stark inconsistencies” when it comes to the treatment of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees. O'Mara Vignarajah said that the U.S. ability to welcome 100,000 people within the span of a few months was actually a “classic example of where there's a will, there's a way.”
Others concurred. “The U.S. can still step up and do big things when it wants to,” said Vanessa Cárdenas, deputy director for America’s Voice. “Case in point: the Biden administration and Americans across the country have welcomed more than 100,000 Ukrainians since the Russian invasion. The many examples of communities helping Ukrainians resettle in safety are powerful reminders of a proud national tradition of welcoming those from across the world who are fleeing violence and persecution.”
Like thousands of Afghans evacuated to the U.S. through Operation Allies Rescue, most Ukrainians here have only temporary relief, and could remain vulnerable to deportation in the future. They’ll need action from Congress. When it comes to Afghan refugees, the Afghan Adjustment Act has the support of refugee resettlement agencies and U.S. military veterans. But the effort to include it in the Ukrainian spending package derailed due to Republicans.
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