The Biden administration is expanding eligibility for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukrainians living in the United States, pushing back the program’s deadline by six weeks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday.

In early March, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announcement a TPS program to protect Ukrainians in the United States from deportation, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the time, Mayorkas said only Ukrainians living in the United States as of March 1 would be eligible for TPS, which also provides work permits.

On Monday, however, Mayorkas said in a notice that Ukrainians residing in the United States as of April 11 would be eligible for TPS if they met other eligibility rules and passed background checks. The government estimates that 59,600 Ukrainians could apply for TPS after the program opened for applications on Tuesday.

The deadline change could make TPS eligible for thousands of additional Ukrainians who managed to reach the United States after the Russian invasion, including those who were allowed to enter the United States through the Mexican border for humanitarian reasons.

A family of a dozen Ukrainian refugees wait to be transported after arriving at Tijuana airport in Mexico on April 8, 2022.

PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

A 1990 law allows DHS to offer TPS to immigrants from countries experiencing armed conflict, environmental disasters or other “extraordinary” emergencies that would prevent their safe return.

In his Monday notice, Mayorkas said the war in Ukraine “presents a grave danger” to Ukrainians returning there, citing Russia’s sustained bombardment of Ukrainian cities, alleged human rights abuses by Russian forces, the mass displacement of civilians and the impact of the conflict on critical services.

“Extraordinary and temporary conditions, including destroyed infrastructure, scarce resources and lack of access to healthcare, prevent Ukrainian nationals from returning to their country of origin safely,” Mayorkas said.

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suspended deportations to Ukraine and other countries in the region in early March.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February sparked the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, forcing nearly 5 million people to flee the country in less than three months, according to the United Nations.

Last month, President Biden pledged to take in up to 100,000 war-displaced Ukrainians, but the United States has yet to announce any programs or policy changes to meet that ambitious goal.

Because they need visas to come directly to the United States, thousands of Ukrainians embarked on a multi-day journey from Europe to Mexico to reach the southern border of the United States, where officials were instructed to consider exempting Ukrainians from pandemic-era entry restrictions and admitting them. for humanitarian reasons.

Between February 1 and April 6, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials processed nearly 10,000 Ukrainians who did not have prior authorization to enter the country, an unprecedented number, according to DHS internal data obtained by CBS News.

During the same period, 41,000 Ukrainians entering the United States on visas were processed by CBP officials, according to DHS figures.

In March, only a dozen Ukrainians entered the United States through the traditional asylum process, which typically takes years due to removals, interviews, medical checks and United Nations security checks United, according to State Department figures.

Unlike the Trump administration, which sought to cut humanitarian immigration programs, the Biden administration has widely used the authority of TPS to provide protection from deportation to hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries plagued by war, ethnic strife, political unrest and natural disasters.

Designations by the Biden administration made about 600,000 immigrants to the United States eligible for TPS, including citizens of Afghanistan, Cameroon, Haiti, Myanmar and Venezuela, according to government estimates.

Earlier this month, 65 members of Congress, mostly Democrats and a few Republicans, urged the Biden administration to change the Ukraine TPS designation eligibility date, waive immigration application fees for Ukrainians and cut red tape to allow Ukrainians to reunite with family in the United States sooner.

“It is great to get this quick and positive response to our call to action to help Ukrainians seeking refuge live, learn, work and participate safely in American society while their home country is devastated. by Putin’s terror,” Texas Democratic Representative Lloyd Doggett said. , who led the bipartisan letter, said in a statement Monday.


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