The relief — known as Temporary Protected Status — applies to people who would face extreme hardship if forced to return to homelands devastated by armed conflict or natural disasters, therefore the protections are limited to people already in the United States. The DHS secretary has discretion to designate a country for TPS.
“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement announcing the move. “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”
CNN previously reported on the expected announcement.
The Biden administration has been under pressure from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, along with immigrant advocates, to provide protections to Ukrainians in the US who can’t return to war-torn Ukraine.
Earlier Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it paused deportation flights to Ukraine, citing the “ongoing humanitarian crisis.”
“Amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis occurring in Ukraine, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has paused repatriation flights to Ukraine. ICE will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and make operational changes as necessary,” said an agency spokesperson.
ICE often pauses enforcement activity in the event of a conflict or natural disaster.
This story has been updated with a statement from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.