A bipartisan group of lawmakers joined together on Wednesday to urge President Joe Biden to get rid of some of the red tape that has been barring the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, saying their “life and future” may depend on their ability to find sanctuary in the United States.
The move came after the White House warned that the war in Ukraine is headed into a protracted new phase.
A total of 65 members of Congress, most of whom were Democrats but joined by a few Republicans, requested that the president extend temporary protected status to the thousands of Ukrainians who have already sought refuge at U.S. ports and borders recently.
They also asked that he expedite immigration processing in order that U.S. citizens and green-card holders would be able to get past the slow-moving refugee program and sponsor their own relatives.
They additionally requested that costly application fees be waived for those who fled, “often with little more than the clothes on their back.”
“In facing this humanitarian crisis and the devastating effects of this war, we must use every tool in our toolkit to ensure our country responds by efficiently processing eligible immigration and refugee applications, knowing that each one represents someone fleeing devastation, whose life and future may depend on how rapidly paperwork is processed,” the letter to the president said.
So far, more than 4 million Ukrainians have left the country, which represents about one-tenth of the total population. Most have fled to neighboring countries like Poland, Romania, and Moldova.
Last month, the Biden administration said the United States would be taking in 100,000 refugees through several legal pathways including the country’s refugee program and “humanitarian parole,” which lets individuals enter the U.S. speedily, although it does not provide permanent protection.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: PEOPLE.COM