The Biden administration is fulfilling President Joe Biden’s promise to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees by launching a sponsorship program called “Uniting for Ukraine.” The program will help facilitate the movement of Ukrainian refugees, primarily those at the U.S./Mexico border, into the United States for asylum.
This is the result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces under President Vladimir Putin, who appears to recognize Ukraine as a part of Russia due to ethnic and historical ties, thereby justifying his means of trying to get that land back under Russian control.
The United States and other countries have responded by imposing trade sanctions on Russia. UK Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly said the country would impose sanctions “to punish the appalling decision” by Putin.
Additionally, thousands of displaced Ukrainians have been arriving at the borders of many countries seeking asylum. This is the largest refugee crisis in the world since World War II.
The Biden administration announced that it would accept 100,000 refugees at the U.S./Mexico border, and there was a surge of asylum seekers seen at the border with more than 2,000 showing up in a 10-day period.
“I think bringing Ukrainian refugees to the United States is a step in the right direction to help the Ukranians,” said Olympic Heights junior Sami Levick. “That being said, I do think that this decision will bring up a lot of political controversy.”
This controversy manifested itself in a relaxation of COVID-19 border guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This was met with negative feedback, primarily from Republican opposed to the Biden administration, especially because the CDC’s new guidelines would lift a public health order that helps control migration.
The order, Title 42, “gives officials the authority to turn away migrants at the border, including those seeking asylum,” according to The New York Times. The impact that it could have on the border include overcrowding, longer screening procedures and an increased likelihood of deportation.
However, the Biden administration did begin to vaccinate undocumented immigrants at the border, so there is some work being done to combat the spread of COVID-19. The initial rate of vaccination was 2,000 a day, but it was projected to increase to 6,000 a day after a few weeks.
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were at a decline as the CDC began to loosen many of their public health guidelines and restrictions. However, the presence of the BA.2 subvariant of omicron threatens to cause another surge in cases, as it is three times more transmissible than the delta variant.
The new sponsorship program announced by the Biden administration, “Uniting for Ukraine,” will hopefully aid many refugees in the process of gaining asylum. It is a streamlining process that will allow Ukrainian applicants to apply for humanitarian parole.
U.S. residents can become involved in the efforts to accept Ukrainian refugees into the country with open arms. Under “Uniting for Ukraine,” individuals can apply to sponsor the travels of Ukrainian applicants to the U.S. border under humanitarian parole.
One requirement for Ukrainian applicants is that they were residents of Ukraine as of February 11, 2022. They also must be vaccinated and meet other public health requirements. Then, they can travel to the U.S. and be considered for parole. This program will even make refugees eligible for work visas once in the U.S., easing the adjustment to life in the country.
Ukrainians do not apply directly to the program, but sponsors would apply on their behalf, choosing specific refugees to assist. A mailing list of refugees in need of aid is available through the group Welcome US.
Once approved for the program, Ukrainian refugees are able to stay in the U.S. for up to two years.