Reports of U.S. Plan to Reunite Ukrainians Raise Concerns for HIAS

SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS welcomes an expected announcement from the Biden Administration that some Ukrainians fleeing war will soon be able to join families and friends in the U.S., but we remain concerned that admissions through individual sponsorship will include a wealth test and may not provide a safety net.

According to press reports, the plan would make it possible for Ukrainians to enter the U.S. for two years under humanitarian parole, a legal status which allows individuals who might otherwise be ineligible to enter the country to stay for a temporary period for urgent humanitarian reasons.

“It’s a relief to finally have a process, but this step is mostly for people with very close relationships here – families and friends who are willing and able to guarantee two years of support if people can’t support themselves,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ senior vice president for global public affairs. “We urge the government to quickly announce other pathways, including community sponsor circles, so that the many thousands of people across the U.S. that want to help Ukrainian refugees can also bring people to safety.”

HIAS is also urging the administration to quickly admit and resettle as refugees in the U.S. third country nationals who were refugees, asylum seekers or humanitarian evacuees in Ukraine, along with refugee applicants who are religious minorities eligible under the Lautenberg Amendment.

Mark Hetfield, HIAS President and CEO, notes that, while the announcement is welcome, there are drawbacks to this process. “These people will be admitted without the usual safety net provided if they were admitted as refugees. Twenty years ago, the U.S. admitted Kosovars as refugees and can still do this for Ukrainians.”

Hetfield added: “Since humanitarian parole provides no pathway to legal status, we’re adding to the growing population of people in the U.S. with no long-term legal status, including DACA recipients, Afghan humanitarian parolees, TPS beneficiaries, and undocumented immigrants. We hope the plight of the Ukrainian refugees, and the outpouring of support for them from across the country, will encourage Congress to finally step up to the plate and provide legal pathways for the millions of neighbors living among us who are in legal limbo.”


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