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A Way To Jump The Line, For Some

by Deedra Abboud in Political, Social Views, Travel
April 15, 2022 0 comments

President Biden stated last month that the US would take up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, but the administration has yet to establish a direct entrance program from Europe.

State Department data show that from Oct. 1 to Feb. 28, fewer than 700 Ukrainians and eight Russians were admitted as refugees. Since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, and prior to Biden’s announcement last month, CBP had encountered more than 19,000 persons from both nations, with the bulk coming from Russia.

In the last two months, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) has processed nearly 10,000 fair-skinned Ukrainian and Russian migrants, many within a few days after their arrival at the U.S. Mexico border.

Meanwhile, over 9,600 asylum claimants from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Honduras, Haiti, Venezuela, and Mexico have been waiting for months on the US-Mexico border, some since March 2018. Among the arrivals are even Cubans, South Asians, and sub-Saharan Africans. A large number are asylum-seekers stuck at the border due to the Title 42 restrictions.

Within days of the Russian invasion, the Biden administration immediately took a key step in welcoming Ukrainian refugees by exempting Ukrainians from Title 42 restrictions. Ukraine is the only country to have received the exemption.

Adriana Minerva Espinoza Nolasco, the undersecretary for migrant affairs, dismissed similarities between European and other asylum-seekers, “It’s very different. [Ukrainians] have access, immediate entry into the United States because of their condition as refugees.”

Typically, admitting refugees into the United States has required various security procedures that can take months or years to complete.

The Biden administration also offered temporary deportation status (TPS) and work permits to over 75,000 Ukrainians who were in the United States as of March 1, including the estimated 34,000 undocumented Ukrainians.

Interestingly, while undocumented Russian migrants living in the U.S. are acknowledged, no estimate of how many appear to exist.

In addition, the USCIS has announced it is proactively prioritizing the processing of certain applications and petitions filed by Ukrainian nationals as well as deferring some regulatory requirements for Ukrainian F-1 nonimmigrant students who are facing severe economic hardship as a result of Ukraine’s ongoing armed conflict.

CBP has even reopened a border crossing in San Diego that had been closed for two years in order to expedite the processing of Ukrainian and Russian applicants.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, many Ukrainians have been granted humanitarian parole, a temporary status for one year. Individuals may apply for parole on their own behalf or on behalf of another person who is outside the United States.  Parole permits a person to immediately enter the United States temporarily for one year and apply for work authorization, but it does not grant immigration status or provide a path to lawful immigration status. After that, a person can petition for asylum, which is a path to citizenship, or, as a Ukrainian, acquire an additional 18-month legal status under TPS.

Russians have continuously been among the top three countries arriving at a San Diego shelter since June 2021. Ukrainians were the third most prevalent nationality among new arrivals as of the first week of March 2022.

According to government data from the fiscal year 2022, over three-quarters of Russians and half of Ukrainians who had previously applied for asylum were ultimately successful in court, despite the fact that such cases can take years to process in the backlogged US system.

On social media, migrants from Ukraine and Russia who have successfully entered the US are exchanging advice on how best to make the journey to the United States’ southern border via Mexico to seek asylum.

While asylum seekers who arrive on foot at official pedestrian crossings are frequently turned back before reaching American soil, vehicles are stopped less frequently.

According to former US Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, Russians and Ukrainians are buying cheap cars in Mexico to improve their chances of crossing the border to make their claims. “It’s a way to jump the line,” he explained.

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