Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum in the US will not be turned away, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this week after reports surfaced that border officials were using the Title 42 Health Department to do so deny entry to Eastern European refugees along the southern border.
Mayorkas told reporters on Thursday that his department has issued guidance reminding authorities that Ukrainian nationals “and anyone else” raising so-called “credible fear” at the US-Mexico border are exempt from Title 42, which allows officials to do so allows to speed up the deportation of migrants due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“We process an individual’s humanitarian aid application as soon as it is submitted to us,” Mayorkas said. “We have already launched a number of efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing war-torn Ukraine. We are exploring other programs that we can implement to expand humanitarian service capabilities.”
Earlier this week, immigration service advocates urged the administration to end Title 42 immediately than a handful of Ukrainians seeking asylum were reportedly turned away when attempting to enter the United States.
“It looks like there is no border policy because the CBP [Customs and Border Protection] Officials make their own rules,” San Diego-based immigration attorney Jacob Sapochnick told The Post. “They make decisions that determine who will or will not attend. And we have no idea how they determined that.”
In one instance, three people who left Ukraine a week after the invasion began on Feb. 24, Sapochnick said, tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border after traveling to Mexico City and were killed by a CBP agent. officials dismissed. The group attempted to cross again in Arizona and were able to apply for asylum there.
“So it’s just telling you that you can go to different places, different ports of entry and officials will treat you differently,” the lawyer said.
While asylum seekers were not specifically told why they could not enter the United States, Sapochnick accused border officials of using Title 42 as an “umbrella.”
“The media says that the US supports you and welcomes the Ukrainians, but at the same time, if they actually come to the border and they are treated by the CBP, that ‘no, you have to go back’,” he said.
Sapochnick said his office has handled between 12 and 22 requests from “mostly” Ukrainians who are “interested in coming in.” [to the US] or either get stuck at the border.”
While the Biden administration has said it will welcome Ukrainian refugees, the immigration attorney has urged the US to take more action, including finding a way to identify and expedite pending family applications.
Other nations have already begun to implement such strategies.
Since January, Canada has taken in around 7,400 Ukrainian nationals – including people who had already filed applications in the country’s Canadian Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship System (IRCC) before Russia invaded.
For future applications, IRCC has advised evacuees to use existing routes and add the keyword “Ukraine2022” for prioritization.
“In addition to our existing ways, IRCC has also announced two new programs to help Ukrainians. We expect arrivals to increase as these two programs launch,” IRCC told the Post in an email.
An estimated 1.4 million people make up Canada’s Ukrainian diaspora, one of the largest in the world, and the Ottawa government says it is keen to make it easier and faster for evacuees to get there.
The UK has also launched programs to speed up the temporary resettlement process for Ukrainians, notably through a new visa regime allowing evacuees to live with host families rent-free for between six months and three years.
Health Minister Sajid Javid told the BBC this week that there will be “no cap” on the number of refugees helped through the program.
It’s unclear whether the US will start accelerating the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees like it did for Afghan evacuees last fall. The Biden administration has repeatedly said that the majority of Ukraine’s 3.2 million refugees are likely to want to stay in Eastern Europe.
“We assume that most displaced Ukrainians want to stay in neighboring countries or elsewhere in the EU where they can travel without a visa, where they may have family and where there are large diaspora communities, with the hope that they will soon can return home,” a State Department spokesman told The Post, while praising Ukraine’s neighbors for keeping their borders open.
“We know that the EU is working to gather support for refugees and displaced people in Ukraine. This challenge is likely to escalate in the near future, and America stands ready to support our allies and partners as they host and care for those in need.”
The spokesman indicated that the department will also work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to determine whether Ukrainian nationals need to be relocated to a third country.
The government has not disclosed how many Ukrainian refugees it expects to resettle in the US. Earlier this month, DHS named Ukrainians currently residing in the US on temporary protection status for the next 18 months.
State Department spokesman Ned Price vowed Monday that the US stood ready to examine “very closely” whether to speed up refugee resettlement, should the need arise.
“We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to support refugees in neighboring countries,” Price told reporters, adding, “When it comes to the United States, we have a cap that is set every year. Within that ceiling are categories including refugees from that part of the world. If Ukrainian refugees need to be resettled further away from neighboring countries, we will look into this very carefully.
“We have proven time and time again that we are a country that takes in refugees, that takes in immigrants, that recognizes that there is strength in that, and have consistently drawn strength from that,” he added.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/18/dhs-says-ukrainian-refugees-can-stay-for-now-after-expulsion-complaints/ DHS says Ukrainian refugees can stay after deportation complaints