Alejandro Mayorkas Expands Migration from War-Torn Ukraine

Ukrainian refugees sign in to attend a job fair in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Feb
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden is expanding Ukrainian migration into the United States, just as Ukraine’s government is drafting more men to operate all the U.S. weaponry that Biden is sending into the embattled country.

The expansion was announced on August 18 when top officials expanded the offer of “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) to cover an additional 167,000 recent Ukrainian migrants in the United States:

“Russia’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis requires that the United States continue to offer safety and protection to Ukrainians who may not be able to return to their country,” said [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “We will continue to offer our support to Ukrainian nationals through this temporary form of humanitarian relief.”

The 167,000 expansion follows a prior award of TPS to 26,000 Ukrainians. The roughly 190,000 Ukrainian migrants traveled to the United States via routes through Germany, Hungary, Poland, Ireland, Mexico, and many other peaceful states.

They were allowed to enter the United States due to the greatly expanded “humanitarian parole” loophole for emergency cases in the nation’s border laws. This loophole has been formalized into the “Uniting for Ukraine” program that allows Ukranians through the borders, but the TPS extension gives the arrivals more rights, including the right to work.

By March 2023, more than 270,000 Ukrainian migrants had arrived by various routes. Some of the migrants were military-age men. For example, in May 2022, one pro-migration group reported on the early arrivals:

The proportion of males was surprising high – much higher than has been reported among Ukrainian refugees heading to European countries since Ukraine banned all male citizens ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country shortly after the Russian invasion began.

Progressive advocates are looking for ways to bring more Ukrainians and to let them stay longer, according to a February 2023 report in USAToday.

The report quoted Krish O’Mara Vignarajah — the president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, which is paid by the government to help migrants settle in American communities:

“The federal government needs to be thinking about what are the longer-term solutions for Ukrainians,” she said. The U.S. could allow Ukrainians to apply for an extension beyond the two-year limit in the parole program. Or the administration could use the Temporary Protected Status program to protect them from deportation, she said.

The 18-month TPS status can be extended indefinitely — if the migrants’ homeland is in turmoil.

The inflows also reduce migrant pressure on European countries, according to the report in USAToday:

[Margo] Novak and [unnnamed] Rybak, who spent four months in a refugee camp in Ireland before coming to Florida, said the United States is the only country they could go with no English and immediately get a job. Both are working at the local Publix supermarket.

The inflow helps the administration’s economic strategy of boosting the nation’s consumer economy by importing more consumers, renters, and workers.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s government is stepping up efforts to draft men into the army. Reuters reported on August 11:

Ukraine has increasingly faced recruitment challenges as the war, now in a brutally attritional phase, nears the 18-month mark. The military has been occasionally hit by scandals involving graft or heavy-handed recruitment tactics.

Last month, the head of the Odesa region’s recruitment centre was ordered into pre-trial detention on suspicion of illegal enrichment. Ukrainian media reports found his family had acquired lavish property in Spain.

Ukraine’s army is being equipped with much U.S.-funded weaponry, most of which needs skilled manpower to operate it amid a war against the Russian military.

Before the war, the U.S. population included almost 400,000 Ukrainian migrants, both legal and illegal.


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