As of April 21, the Biden administration officially launched ‘Uniting for Ukraine,’ a program that will allow pretty much anyone legally here to financially sponsor Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their country so that they can come to the U.S. sooner.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Biden announced the program late last week which is aimed at fulfilling Biden’s pledge of welcoming up to 100,000 of the 5 million Ukrainians who have fled their homeland as part of the largest refugee crisis since World War II.
“This new humanitarian parole program will complement the existing legal pathways available to Ukrainians, including immigrant visas and refugee processing,” the president said in remarks at the White House. “It will provide an expedient channel for secure, legal migration from Europe to the United States for Ukrainians who have a U.S. sponsor, such as a family or a [non-governmental organization].”
The policy announcement comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say they have processed a record 3,274 Ukrainians in March alone, a jump of more than 1,100% from February.
Under the program, U.S. individuals or organizations seeking to sponsor Ukrainians overseas will need to simply file affidavits of financial support and undergo background checks. DHS will then determine whether they qualify to be sponsors. These include not just U.S. citizens but just about anyone living here in some legal capacity. They can be lawful permanent residents, lawful temporary residents, and conditional permanent residents; asylees, refugees, and parolees; TPS holders or beneficiaries of deferred action (including DACA) or Deferred Enforced Departure.
If the sponsorship is approved, the Ukrainians identified by U.S. sponsors will need to undergo security screenings overseas to ensure they will not pose a security or public safety risk to the U.S. They will also be required to be vaccinated against communicable diseases. An administration official said the U.S. expects the “majority” of Ukrainians welcomed by the U.S. to arrive through the new program.
This news comes as stories of racism perpetrated by some Ukrainians against some Black and Indian students continue to be published, and as Black and Brown immigrants applying for asylum continue to be kept out of the U.S. by Title 42, while the red carpet is rolled out to Ukrainians to come in—legally or not.
It’s a blatant bias and discrimination by the United States, much like it was in Ukraine for those Black and Brown students. Why has the administration not seen the need to institute a similar ‘Uniting for Africa’ program for those fleeing civil war in Africa but with relatives here?
Or how about a ‘Uniting for Central America’ for those fleeing drug gangs; or a ‘Uniting for Haiti’ program for those fleeing the horrific daily gang violence in Haiti but with relatives here who qualify to sponsor them?
Like with the Uniting for Ukraine program, there can be a cap too. You then have the right to say the border is closed.
But no such luck. This comes as more deportations continue weekly to Haiti, a lawless country. Between March 6-12, 2022 alone, the International Organization for Migration in Haiti reported 1,082 Haitian migrants were returned by air and sea, while as of that period this year, 7,496 have been deported, with 80% of those returned from the U.S. More than 27,000 were deported in 2021 alone.
What is even worse is that U.S. visa applicants who have paid hundreds in fees now face lengthy wait times due to massive application backlogs of between 18 to 24 months.
Again, I absolutely empathize with the Ukrainians and the dilemma they have found themselves in but the U.S.’ response smacks of bias. Not just to Black and Brown immigrants stuck at the border, but to immigrants within, who are now caught up in limbo trying to figure out a way out of a system that has already cashed hundreds of dollars of their hard-earned checks.
Yet, it has yet to deliver the elusive work permit renewal or green card in time for them to hold on to the job that is keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table and money remitted weekly to support a family back home.
How about we “unite” those within the borders right now, before looking further afield?
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.