Russia targeting key port cities in Ukraine
Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has the latest developments on the Russia-Ukraine war.
The Biden administration on Thursday announced it is granting protection from deportation to Ukrainian nationals already in the United States, after calls to do so from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
The Department of Homeland Security announced that Ukraine will be designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. TPS protects nationals of designated countries living in the U.S. from deportation if they are eligible and allows them to apply for work permits and to travel freely.
TPS status is granted based on three grounds: armed ongoing conflict, environmental disasters or “extraordinary and temporary conditions.” In this instance, DHS said the designation was based on “both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine from returning to Ukraine safely.”
The release noted that the Russian invasion had caused a humanitarian crisis that has left many without electricity, water and basic supplies and medical services.
“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,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”
To be eligible, Ukrainians must have been in the U.S. since March 1, and those who enter after that time are not eligible.
Earlier Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that it has paused deportation flights to Ukraine.
“Amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis occurring in Ukraine, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has paused repatriation flights to Ukraine,” an ICE spokesperson told Fox News. “ICE will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and make operational changes as necessary.”
The moves come after both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, along with dozens of activist groups, had urged the Biden administration to grant TPS and other protections to Ukrainians in the U.S.
Ukrainian refugees arrive at the border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Seven days into the war, roughly 874,000 people have fled Ukraine, and the U.N. refugee agency warned the number could cross the 1 million mark soon.
(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
“Forcing Ukrainian nationals to return to Ukraine in the midst of a war would be inconsistent with America’s values and our national security interests,” more than 40 senators said in a letter to President Biden Tuesday.
“As a nation, we must do our part to protect the safety of Ukrainians in the United States by designating Ukraine for TPS.”
The letter cites State Department figures that 29,510 nonimmigrant (temporary) visas were issued to Ukrainians in FY 2020.
Immigration advocacy groups reacted positively to Mayorkas’ announcement Thursday.
“As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensifies, the world has watched in horror as cities are attacked and civilians are forced to leave everything behind and seek safety elsewhere,” Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement. “President Biden’s decision to grant TPS to Ukrainians currently in the U.S. is an important move that speaks to our history as a safe haven for those facing oppression.”
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