April 20, 2022 8:10 AM

We Are All America & Refugee Congress Call to Rebuild USRAP to Welcome Ukrainians

Advocates say U.S. Should Not Rely on Temporary Parole

For Immediate Release: April 14, 2022

WASHINGTON–After recent reports that the Biden administration will institute a humanitarian parole program for vulnerable Ukrainians who are seeking refuge, former refugees and refugee advocates urge the administration to invest in permanent resettlement infrastructure and address deep inequities in accessing protection systems. Advocates also urge the administration to ensure access to the program to all Ukrainians, not only those with U.S. ties. 

The administration should instead continue to invest in and rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) rather than rely upon temporary parole programs as USRAP can provide long-term security not only for Ukrainians who have been forcibly displaced but for refugees from across the globe who have long been languishing in the U.S. resettlement pipeline. 

Refugee and immigrant leaders in communities across the U.S. know how important it is to offer safety and hope to those seeking refuge:

"My concern is that this plan is meant only for those that are well connected,” said Jona Masiya, Refugee Congress Delegate for West Virginia. “Again, the underprivileged and the poor and unconnected are left to die at the hands of invaders, while those well connected will be admitted and receive refuge in the United States.”

“As a former refugee who was forced to flee her home from that region, I know all too well the atrocities of war and the aftermath of having to rebuild and start a new life. During a time when these individuals are in most need, it is disappointing and disheartening that the Biden Administration is choosing to not help them,” said Nejra Sumic, Refugee Congress Delegate for Arizona and National Field Manager with We Are All America. We strongly urge the Administration to do the right thing by opening up the US Refugee Resettlement Program and allow Ukrainians permanent status in the U.S.”

"While getting to safety and security is the primary focus, the thought of going away from your own country and from all the things you know is unconscionable. We should respect the wish of some to return back home in the future to help to rebuild, if that is what they choose. However, the U.S. government should not make this decision for people and use that as an excuse for not resettling people, saying they want to return home. What we need to do now is to provide a safety net so that they have the option to return home if they choose, but they must have a pathway to citizenship,” said Clara Hart, Refugee Congress Honorary Delegate for South Dakota.

“I am an immigrant from Ukraine. Looking through Facebook I came across a post from Svetlana, a lady from Sumy, a Ukrainian city on the border with Russia. On February 24, she and her 11 year-old son fled westwards. They crossed the Mexico-USA border and appeared in the USA with no money, no relations to assist her. Svetlana hoped the US would protect her, but under U.S. law they are neither political or religious refugees, nor fled from a natural disaster. From the point of view of American law, they aren’t worth protecting,“ said Nina Rumyantseva of the Russian Speaking Community Council. “Svetlana and her son are just two ordinary Ukrainian persons who hoped to get protected by the greatest country in the world. They are in a desperate situation now. They don’t have anywhere to return nor have the money to travel back and they have no rights in the U.S. now. What should they do now? Please, remember Svetlana and Ihor when you discuss the issue of a humanitarian parole program for Ukrainians.”

“I personally sympathize with the Ukrainians, as they are victims of unjust Russian war. They deserve to have a safe place,” said Abdul Hamid, Refugee Congress Delegate for Wisconsin.