Biden's public-private Uniting for Ukraine program set to admit record number of refugees

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The United Nations called the displacement of Ukrainians 'the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.'

Uniting for Ukraine, a federal immigration program launched by President Joe Biden on April 25, is set to bring more than 33,500 refugees from the Russian war in Ukraine to the United States, CBS News is reporting.

The program streamlines the process of immigration, matching American hosts willing to provide financial support with Ukrainian refugees who apply and pass biometric and biographic screening and a security check.

The program is on track to set a record for private refugee sponsorship in the United States.

Biden announced the Uniting for Ukraine program on April 21, noting in a speech, "This program will be fast.  It will be streamlined. And it will ensure the United States honors its commitment to go to the Ukrainian people and need not go through our southern border."

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal praised Biden, writing on Twitter after the speech: "Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes through russia's barbaric invasion of [Ukraine]. Today, U.S. President Joe Biden @POTUS announced the Uniting for Ukraine programme simplifying the procedure of entering the [U.S.]by Ukrainians. Grateful for this friendly move!"

More than 6,500 people have arrived in the U.S. from Ukraine, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and immigration officials have authorized an additional 27,000 Ukrainians to enter the country under the program. DHS notes that 45,000 Americans have submitted applications to sponsor Ukrainian refugees.

The United Nations says more than 6.6 million refugees have left Ukraine since Russia began its unprovoked attack on the nation Feb. 24.

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, in early March called the displacement of Ukrainians "the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II."

"Happy to have just had my first Uniting for Ukraine applicant get her travel approved by @uscis," immigration lawyer Greg Siskind tweeted on May 9. "The speed with which these e-filed applications are being adjudicated is pretty impressive and the US sponsor and the Ukrainian refugee in this case are ecstatic."

Biden's actions to assist refugees stand in stark contrast to those of former President Donald Trump, who was openly hostile to immigrants and refugees for the duration of his presidency.

In 2020, before his failed reelection bid, Trump reduced the cap on refugees to a historic low, down to 15,000. By contrast, former President Barack Obama set the cap at 110,000 in 2016.

Biden raised the cap to 62,500 in May 2021 and said his goal is to raise it to 125,000 refugee admissions for the fiscal year that will begin in October.

The International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit that works on global refugee issues, criticized the Trump administration's hostility to refugees in September 2019, calling it "a failure of American leadership and moral authority."

The same organization praised Biden's announcement of Uniting for Ukraine.

"This leadership is necessary and urgent during the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, as over 5 million Ukrainians flee the country and another 7 million are displaced internally," the IRC noted in an April 21 statement.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.