National security professionals and humanitarian advocates are urging the Biden administration to protect Ukrainians in the U.S. and ensure they aren’t forced home while Russia invades their country.
“The stunning circumstances unfolding in Ukraine highlights, once again, the United States’ obligation to offer humanitarian support for those caught in the crosshairs of invasion and political instability,” Council on National Security and Immigration leader Scott Boylan, a former Department of Homeland Security adviser, said in a statement.
Russia has begun an invasion of Ukraine, attacking several cities and setting off an international security crisis. The push to provide refuge for Ukrainians comes as U.S. agencies still struggle to evacuate, resettle, and offer long-term status to displaced Afghans.
The Council on National Security and Immigration and other groups want Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure for Ukrainians, classifications that would allow those already in the U.S. to remain temporarily. The Niskanen Center, a libertarian-leaning think tank, also recommends special status for Ukrainians in the U.S. on student visas.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the process for TPS and other protections, said the agency is closely monitoring conditions around the world and has no announcements to share or preview for now.
U.S. officials also face pressure to accept an anticipated wave of refugees from Ukraine. EU member states near Ukraine have already registered an increase of traffic across the border, in what could be an exodus of more than a million refugees.
“The U.S. and its allies must prepare to respond to the very real possibility of a mass exodus of Ukrainian refugees,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said in a statement. “Protecting the displaced cannot merely be an afterthought.”