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The Biden administration will temporarily extend protected status to Ukrainians already in the United States for individuals who have continuously resided in the country since March 1, 2022. This protected status is a form of humanitarian relief protecting them from deportation in the wake of the Russian attack on their home country.
This move was in response to the pressure from immigrant advocates, Republic, and Democratic legislators to provide refuge to Ukrainians in the United States awaiting return to their homeland.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the estimated 75,000 eligible Ukrainians are eligible to apply can extend for the next 18 months. The Homeland Security move will allow Ukrainians currently in the United States to stay here and lift the threat of deportation. However, those who attempted to travel to the United States after March 1 will not be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
During the announcement of Thursday night, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned that the motivation for their decision is the insensible, unwarranted, and deliberate raid to Ukraine.
TPS is issued to people facing hardship and forced to return to their devastated homeland under armed conflict. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, in a statement affirming the move, said:
Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries. In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.
Thousands of Ukrainians can benefit from the TPS, according to The Migration Policy Institute’s forecast. The designation will impact 10,000 Ukrainians living in Massachusetts, individuals on student visas, and expiring work visas. In addition, the Center for American Progress recently said TPS could protect 27,000 undocumented Ukrainians and 96,000 non-U.S. citizen Ukrainians.
A bipartisan group of senators wrote a letter to President Joe Biden this week, urging his administration to extend the relief, reading: “Forcing Ukrainian nationals to return to Ukraine during a war would be inconsistent with American values and our national security interests.”
Venezuela and Sudan join Ukraine in 12 countries given the TPS.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) paused deportation and repatriation flights to Ukraine amid the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. ICE continues to monitor the ongoing situation to make the necessary operational changes. ICE generally pauses enforcement activity. It often stays enforcement action during natural disasters or possible conflicts.
There was no disclosure of exact figures on the number of Ukrainians affected by this move. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, about 30,000 Ukrainians in the United States, including tourists, students, and individuals with expired work visas. In addition, about 4,000 Ukrainians are presently fighting deportation based on the Syracuse University database.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN Politics: Biden administration will extend immigration relief to Ukrainians in the U.S.; Priscilla Alvarez and Lauren Fox
NDTV: Biden Administration Extends Immigration Relief To Ukrainians In U.S.;
GBH: Biden extends temporary protected status to Ukrainians in the U.S.; by Sarah Betancourt
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Jernej Furman’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License