Opinion | The U.S. door swings open to Ukrainians

Placeholder while loading article actions

The Biden administration has embarked on a high-profile experiment in admitting Ukrainians who fled Vladimir Putin’s scorched-earth campaign to the United States. That tens of thousands of them managed to take refuge in this country for about three months, with relatively little fanfare – and even less controversy, given the toxicity that accompanies most migration problems – is a reaffirmation of America’s commitment to its values ​​as a beacon for the world’s most desperate people. This commitment must be maintained as the war in Ukraine drags on, which seems likely.

At least 71,000 Ukrainians entered the United States, in almost all cases legally, through airports in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere, as well as, in the first weeks of the war, crossing the southern border from Mexico . They arrived under various immigrant and non-immigrant categories, the most innovative of which required US-based sponsors to initiate their applications to travel here. another 23,000 have been approved to travel; most will likely arrive here in the next few months.

Under the most innovative program, known as Uniting for Ukraine, sponsors have applied to support more than 60,000 Ukrainians seeking to enter the country; they include relatives or friends of those who have fled war, as well as groups including non-profit organizations and churches. New online applications to sponsor individual Ukrainians continue at a rate of up to 1,400 per day. In addition, around 22,000 managed to travel to the country before the sponsorship program was set up in April. Still others entered with visas and green cards.

At the current pace, the administration could achieve its goal of admitting 100,000 Ukrainians, announced in April, as early as this summer. Officials stressed that this number is a commitment, not a ceiling; this means that admissions can – and should – continue once the grade is achieved.

Given what could become a war of attrition in Ukraine, the administration would be wise to prepare for a long-term commitment. Most Ukrainians who have fled their homes, hoping to return soon, have so far waited in neighboring countries – Poland, Romania, Moldova and others in Eastern Europe. As the war drags on, others are likely to take up resettlement opportunities further west – in Western Europe and Canada as well as the United States.

The Biden administration’s sponsorship program is innovative — it frees the government from its traditional role of resettlement and supporting refugees. That’s partly a practical matter: Officials inherited a refugee resettlement program, gutted under President Donald Trump, that’s ill-equipped to absorb the tens of thousands of Ukrainians now arriving. This is a viable solution for now, but it only allows stays limited to two years. That shouldn’t stop Ukrainians who don’t have U.S. sponsors from applying to enter the country through the regular refugee channel, a long-term process that allows for permanent resettlement in the United States.

Due to Russia’s aggression, Ukrainian refugees will be the responsibility of the world, especially Europe, for the foreseeable future. More than 5.1 million flocked to Europe; more than 3.2 million of them have applied for temporary residence there. The United States, as the largest Western country and leader of the NATO military alliance, must continue to bear some of the burden.

Leave a Comment