DHS grants temporary immigration status to all Ukrainians in the US

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For the next 18 months, Ukrainians already in the United States will be allowed to remain in the country and work without fear of deportation. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a program that protects foreign nationals from deportation to countries that have undergone natural or human-made disasters.

“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasRepublican attorneys general call for DHS secretary’s resignation Supreme Court to review push to end ‘remain in Mexico’ policy Overnight Health Care — CDC: Anime convention not a superspreader MORE said.

“In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States,” he added. 

The Biden administration had earlier vowed not to deport people to Ukraine, Russia and seven other European countries in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The TPS designation comes after significant political pressure from top Democrats and some Republicans, who had called on President BidenJoe BidenBiden hails UN vote: ‘Lays bare Putin’s isolation’ Overnight Defense & National Security — US tries to turn down the dial on Russia Johns Hopkins doctor says children need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 MORE to include Ukraine in the humanitarian program. 

“After a week of Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinUS set to sanction more Russian oligarchs: report Biden hails UN vote: ‘Lays bare Putin’s isolation’ Substitute teacher suspended for remarks supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine MORE’s illegal and ruthless war against the people of Ukraine, I am heartened that Biden administration is heeding our calls to designate Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status,” said Sen. Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“As a result of today’s decision, President Biden is once again making clear the United States will not relent in its support for the people of Ukraine in this dark moment in history,” Menéndez added. 

Earlier this week, Menéndez, along with Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden court pick hits roadblock after GOP objection Jackson confirmation hearings to begin March 21 Law enforcement officials call for tougher prosecutions amid increase in carjackings MORE (D-Ill.) and Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanScott says his plan could change after McConnell rebuke For small businesses, electronic document delivery is critical to the full benefit of retirement modernization Ukraine’s ambassador to meet with senators on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Ohio), led 39 senators in a letter calling on Biden to designate Ukraine for TPS.

Democrats are increasingly bullish about TPS designations, which have allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to work in the United States, albeit under a temporary status that does not allow an easy transition to permanent residence. 

California Democrats Sen. Alex PadillaAlex PadillaThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden goes after Putin, stresses unity Democratic lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 ahead of SOTU Big Tech allies point to China, Russia threat in push to squash antitrust bill MORE and Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenNumbers don’t lie: America’s most resilient jobs are venture-backed Congressional stock trading ban must include spouses, lawmakers say Judiciary under microscope as Congress weighs stock trade ban MORE, chairs of the immigration subcommittees in their respective chambers of Congress, jointly celebrated Mayorkas’s announcement. 

“We’re grateful to see the Biden Administration heed our calls and take swift, just action to grant Ukrainian nationals in the United States with protection from deportation to a country currently under a brutal, unprovoked assault by Vladimir Putin. Our prayers are with the people of Ukraine and we continue to stand firmly behind them as they defend their home and their democracy,” they wrote.

More than 300,000 foreign nationals are currently in the country under TPS; the Ukrainian designation could add up to 30,000 people to that number.

“This is great news even if it is long overdue. It is necessary but still not sufficient. We hope President Biden takes additional action, and more swiftly, to assist the millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing for their lives,” said Doris Landaverde, the national spokesperson for the National TPS Alliance. 

“The days ahead will be the measure of President Biden’s presidency,” added Landaverde, a TPS beneficiary.

The Biden administration has also granted new TPS designations to Venezuela and Sudan, and it added a new designation over Haiti’s preexisting TPS status that greatly expanded the number of Haitians eligible for protections.

Still, the Biden administration has resisted issuing new designations for a handful of countries for which former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel claims Trump ‘engaged in criminal conspiracy’ Capitol riot defendant pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy, agrees to cooperate The Memo: Boebert’s antics blasted as another twist in politics’ downward spiral   MORE tried to end TPS. 

The original designation for Haiti, as well as those of El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal and Nicaragua, are currently only active because of a court injunction invalidating Trump’s order to repeal them.

Nicole Melaku, the executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans commended the Ukrainian designation, but called for expansions of the program to protect nationals of certain African countries.

“We also call for DHS to create and expand TPS protections for Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, countries that were devastated by environmental disasters. The decisions to grant TPS should not perpetuate long standing racial inequities in immigration enforcement and benefits,” Melaku said.

Prominent Democrats joined the call to include more African and Asian countries in the program, particularly war-torn nations that receive less media attention than Ukraine.

“The Biden Admin should also designate TPS for non-white war-stricken countries like Ethiopia, Cameroon, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Mali and others,” tweeted Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Menéndez also called on Biden to expand TPS.

“I will continue to urge the Administration utilize this statute to protect more populations who are unable to return home, including nationals from Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan,” he said.

“Today, as the Biden administration renews its commitment to protect refugees and asylum seekers in the post-Trump era and works to fulfill its promise to welcome migrants fleeing danger at our own borders, I join in commending this important TPS designation and look forward to seeing our economy and communities strengthened by it,” he added.

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