Biden’s Next Legislative Issue Could Be the Ukrainian Refugee Situation

The flood of refugees from Ukraine is starting to have repercussions in the United States.

The Biden administration stated last week it would not deport Ukrainians whose visas expire in the next 18 months. According to the UN, over one million people have deserted the war-torn country.

This week, DHS granted temporary protected status to Ukrainians in the US.

The nonprofit Migration Policy Institute estimates the categorization will encompass 30,000 people. Canada and the EU have also offered Ukrainians similar incentives. 

Overextended

The one million Ukrainians who’ve already fled to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia have overtaken the proportion of TPS-eligible Ukrainians in the US.

Half are children, many alone since the Ukrainian military enlisted adult men. “This is one of the fastest exoduses from a nation I’ve seen in 40 years,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

The US will take Ukrainian refugees, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

She claimed the vast majority of them wanted to reach Europe. However, she doesn’t know if Biden’s campaign-promised 62,500-person cap has to be hiked again.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies Project on Fragility and Mobility’s Erol Yayboke predicts “trickles” of Ukrainians will be resettled in the US. 

According to Cato Institute immigration studies associate David Bier, Ukrainian desire for immigration could fluctuate, depending on the war’s duration. Though filing delays and unknown outcomes make it unappealing.

The southern border and Afghanistan may have hampered Biden’s response to Ukraine, according to Lora Ries, former executive Homeland Security Department deputy chief of staff.

Ries feared Ukraine’s TPS designation would be “overextended” and misused, as occurred with the humanitarian and major public benefit parole schemes.

Refugees and asylum seekers may also be driven from Russia, says Bier. Scores of Russians have fled this week, fearing Putin may declare martial law, close borders, and crack down on dissent.

According to OVD-Info, up to 8,000 Russian anti-war demonstrators have been arrested, including five youngsters and an older woman.

Developments and What’s to Come

The Kremlin shut down independent Russian news outlets and barred access to “fake news” sources like the BBC and Facebook.

“There is a possibility many more Ukrainians and Russians may seek asylum,” Bier warned. “Persecution has been going on for decades,” said CSIS’s Yayboke.

“We need to enforce our immigration laws and improve the asylum system,” Biden remarked during his State of the Union address last week.

In reality, he has a negative net 19 percent foreign affairs approval rating and a negative net 23 percent immigration favorability rating. Biden also offered military, financial, and direct relief to Ukraine.

“The Ukrainians are retaliating with bravery,” he remarked, “but the coming days, weeks, and months will be tough.”

Soon after, the Office of Management and Budget requested $10 billion in funding for Ukrainian military equipment and food imports, counter-sanctions, cyberattack and misinformation countermeasures, and electrical grid strengthening projects.

Since 2021, the US has spent $1.4 billion on Ukraine. Yayboke does not know the number of displaced persons in Ukraine; they must figure out how they can help people in Ukraine.

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