Would You Welcome Ukrainian Refugees To Your Neighborhood?
As the war in Ukraine rages on, President Biden is being pushed to prevent deportations of Ukrainian immigrants living in the US.
Activist groups and at least one Democratic senator are urging President Biden to give Ukrainians currently in the US protection from deportation – amid reports that the Department of Homeland Security is considering such a move.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, groups are arguing that the US should grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainian nationals already in the US. TPS protects nationals of designated countries living in the US from potential deportation if they are eligible, allows them to apply for work permits, and gives them the freedom to travel.
TPS status is granted based on three grounds: armed ongoing conflict, environmental disasters, or “extraordinary and temporary conditions.” The program has been criticized before by immigration hawks, who argue the designation often protects those here illegally and is extended well beyond the immediate time period of an initial emergency or crisis. Alternatively, the Biden administration could issue a similar Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) designation for Ukrainian nationals, which is issued at the president’s discretion.
Activist groups have argued that given the armed ongoing conflict in Ukraine, it would be a straightforward decision. More than 170 such groups have already written to President Biden, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging them to designate Ukraine for TPS and DED and also grant students relief (SSR) – citing estimates that it would protect approximately 30,000 Ukrainians.
“Given the already unmet humanitarian need in the country and the effects of armed conflict with Russia, Ukraine is in no state to receive TPS/DED and SSR eligible Ukrainians,” the groups argue. “Returning these Ukrainians to an at-war country would further destabilize the precarious conditions.”
“For this reason, TPS/DED and SSR for Ukraine support humanitarian interests and address US foreign policy goals by alleviating pressure on the Ukrainian government while the crisis is underway and help stabilize Europe by not adding to the predicted refugee crisis. Returning these nationals to the country poses a serious threat to their personal safety,” they say.
In a separate statement, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), one of the letters’ signees, said that “human lives depend on it.”
“War is evil and incongruent with our faith values to honor and protect human life. As we watch in horror the attacks unfolding in the neighborhoods and homes of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, we urge President Biden to protect human life by extending TPS, DED, and SSR to Ukrainians currently in the United States, “Anna Gallagher, CLINIC’s executive director, said in a statement.
Neither DHS nor anyone in the Biden administration has issued any statement regarding TPS or DED status for Ukrainians at this time.
However, CBS News reported that the administration is considering either TPS or DED for Ukrainian nationals, citing officials familiar with discussions.
That move has the support of Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who has previously pushed for broad use of TPS to include El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.
“The war in Ukraine is exactly the type of crisis TPS was created for – to allow people to live and work in the United States when they are unable to return home safely,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, countries in Europe have been making exceptions to immigration rules due to the crisis. The UK. Home Office announced this week that Ukrainians who are on work, study, or visit visas in the UK will have them temporarily extended or shifted to another visa pathway.