New parole program announced for Ukrainians
Last Thursday, President Biden announced a new parole program that would allow for streamlined processing of Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States. Since traditional refugee resettlement takes years to complete, this new plan will create another path for Ukrainians with U.S.-based sponsors and is set to begin today. To be eligible for this new program, dubbed Uniting for Ukraine, individuals would need to be residents in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022 and would need to pass biometric and biographic screening, security vetting, and complete all vaccination and public health requirements.
The sponsorship process is to be initiated by the U.S. based sponsor, who will be able to apply through USCIS. Sponsors must provide financial support and go through a background check. Once the application is approved, the sponsored individual will be authorized to travel to the United States where they will be considered for entry via parole on a case by case basis. The parole will be effective for 2 years, and will allow for work authorization. DHS has stated that they will no longer grant Title 42 exceptions for Ukrainians who request asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border after the parole program goes into effect.
In addition to parole, DHS also announced that operations of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) will be expanded in Europe for more access to the Lautenberg Program, which benefits certain religious minorities. USRAP will also expand other resources in Europe to be able to make more referrals for refugee resettlement for Ukrainians who are determined to be especially vulnerable.
Over 5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the war began
Meanwhile in Europe, Ukrainians continue to flee across the border to seek refuge in neighboring nations as the war continues. In the two months since the Russian invasion, over 5 million people have fled Ukraine. As the number of arrivals continues to grow, so too have concerns over the capacity for support in Europe: especially for countries like Poland, which has received over half of the refugees so far. With so many refugees in countries bordering Ukraine, it will be imperative for other countries to be ready to offer additional support, and the United States may need to prepare to welcome more than the 100,000 initially promised.
However, it is also imperative for this aid to Ukrainians to be offered along with support for other refugees, rather than prioritizing one vulnerable population over another. A Foreign Policy report highlighted the plight of “hundreds of Afghans” who have been evicted from their housing in Germany to make way for Ukrainian refugees. Parwana Amiri, an Afghan social activist and refugee, shared her story of displacement from home to home since being evicted in March. She laments, “When images first emerged from Ukraine, I cried for its people. I know war and its horrors. I still cry for them. I just ask that we’re all treated the same. Refugee is refugee.”
Political battles continue over the anticipated end of Title 42
DHS Secretary Mayorkas stated in an interview with CBS News that while the U.S. government anticipates challenges in border processing in the coming months, they are prepared to end Title 42 in May. He cited the addition of medical staff and other personnel at the border in addition to new facilities and expanded transportation capabilities as part of the plan, along with continued discussions with other governments to facilitate cooperation in the control of migration across borders.
There continues to be an outcry from many Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, who assert that lifting Title 42 would increase border crossings. However, the number of encounters in recent months have been significantly inflated by the use of Title 42, which does not impose criminal penalties for repeat crossings. Therefore, rates of recidivism (or repeat crossings) are at historic highs that make the number of encounters far higher than the number of unique individuals apprehended. For reference, while CBP reported 221,303 encounters at the southern border in March, the number of unique individuals was only 159,900. Data from the Title 42 lawsuit brought forth by the state of Arizona shows that “the recidivism rate of single adults from Northern Triangle countries processed under Title 42 is nearly 50%.”
Late Monday afternoon, a federal judge in Louisiana announced an intention to grant the temporary restraining order to block the termination of Title 42.
Chart from the National Immigration Forum, Explainer: Title 42 and What Comes Next at the Border. Accessed 04/25/2022.