Awareness - March 14, 2022 - We Welcome

Awareness - March 14, 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused the largest refugee movement in Europe since World War II

The movement of refugees from Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24th now represents the “fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II.” As of Monday morning, over 2.8 million refugees have reportedly fled Ukraine, and approximately 2 million are internally displaced within Ukraine. The European Union has offered temporary residency to Ukrainians, which allows them to find protection without the need to apply for asylum. Poland has received by far the largest number of arrivals with over a million Ukrainian refugees in recent weeks. 

While most Ukrainians have fled to Europe for immediate safety, the bulk of U.S. support for Ukrainians refugees has been through funds for food and aid. CNN reported on Monday that the Biden administration is looking to expedite the refugee process for some Ukrainians who already have family in the United States, but for now the pathways for Ukrainians to come to the United States are limited and the wait times are long. While the State Department granted Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians present in the U.S. as of March 1, this does not apply for those seeking protection at our borders after that date. Reports from the U.S.-Mexico border last week indicated that Ukrainians seeking asylum at our borders were turned away, citing the Title 42 policy that has been in place since 2020. While the family in this article were ultimately allowed to enter the U.S., this incident highlights how tenuous the odds are for families seeking safety at our southern border.

CDC terminated Title 42 “with respect to unaccompanied noncitizen children”

After conflicting court rulings on the use of Title 42 for families arriving at the border with family versus children arriving at the border alone, the CDC issued a statement late Friday night terminating Title 42 for unaccompanied children. The statement indicates that the processes in place for unaccompanied children mitigates COVID-19 risk, and they do not pose a threat to national health. However, all other asylum seekers arriving at the border are still subject to Title 42 expulsions. 

The Biden administration continues to receive calls from Democrats and other advocates to end Title 42 altogether as public health directives across the country continue to be eased. There have been reports that when the policy comes up for its periodic review in April, that the Biden administration could end it altogether, as its continued use continues to get more criticism from his fellow Democrats, health experts, and immigration advocates. You can add your voice to the calls for an end to Title 42 here.

The Ukrainian refugee crisis highlights the need for the US to restore its place as a leader in refugee resettlement

As the world continues to seek ways to aid Ukrainian refugees, the weaknesses and disparities within the resettlement apparatus become abundantly apparent. An article from Ali Noorani in The Bulwark highlights several ways in which the United States should once again step forward to take leadership in refugee resettlement after years of decline. Noorani argues that now is the time for the U.S. to rebuild the resettlement program to be “much nimbler and more effective,” to streamline those who need immediate entry, and to expedite the thousands of existing applicants in the existing Lautenberg program. Actions such as these would assist not just Ukrainians in this current crisis, but would better equip our system for future events that cause large volumes of displacement.

While news coverage of the crisis in Ukraine has unveiled bias among the media and public figures, there have also been reports over the last week that highlight the interconnectedness of all refugees. This includes the young Ukrainian boy who arrived alone at the Slovakian border, whose family had already fled another war in Syria a decade before, and the Afghan families who had sought refuge in Ukraine after Kabul fell only to be fleeing another war 6 months later. Another article from CBS News last week highlighted how Ukrainians are not alone in this period of large-scale displacement. Li Cohen highlights a dozen other current crises, including:

  • Syria - 6.7 million people
  • Palestinians - 5.7 million people
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo - 5 million people
  • Yemen - 4 million people
  • Venezuela - 4 million people
  • Afghanistan - 2.6 million people
  • The Sahel - 2.6 million people
  • Nigeria & Lake Chad Basin region - 2.4 million people
  • South Sudan - 2.2 million people
  • Myanmar - 1.1 million people
  • Ethiopia’s Tigray region - 1 million people
  • Burundi - 333,700 people