Mar 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees

A girl sits next to a stuffed bear as refugees from Ukraine wait in the main railway station in Przemysl, southeastern Poland, near the Polish-Ukrainian border
A girl sits next to a stuffed bear as refugees from Ukraine wait in the main railway station in Przemysl, southeastern Poland, near the Polish-Ukrainian border. Photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. is preparing to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia's invasion through its refugee program and other pathways, the Biden administration announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The news comes during President Biden's visit to Europe, and in the face of building pressure from within the U.S. and around the world for the administration to do more to aid Ukrainians — including accepting more refugees.

  • Just seven Ukrainian refugees were resettled in the U.S. during the first half of March, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, the number of people who fled Ukraine for nearby nations is now nearing 3.7 million, according to the UN.
  • It can take years for refugees to go through the normal resettlement process to get to the U.S., and the government says it is working to expand and create new programs to more quickly bring Ukrainians in — especially those with family members already in the U.S.
  • Still, many Ukrainians are expected to want to stay closer to home, in Europe.

What to watch: Administration officials are considering all options.

  • They include humanitarian parole and a priority designation that could provide easier access to the refugee process, according to a source familiar with internal discussions, as well as recent reports by CNN and NBC News.
  • The Department of Homeland Security used the special mechanism of parole to quickly bring in Afghans after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, but there's now a backlog of tens of thousands of applications.

The big picture: The administration also announced new, broader initiatives to provide more aid to the region as Russia continues its brutal invasion.

  • The new efforts include providing more than $1 billion of new humanitarian assistance and the launch of the European Democratic Resilience Initiative.
  • The initiative will put at least $320 million toward, among other actions, bolstering democracy, documenting potential war crimes in Ukraine and keeping vulnerable groups safe — such as those in the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The U.S. has also already provided millions of dollars to Ukraine's neighboring countries as they welcome millions of displaced people.
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