(This is the first of a series on the Ukraine-Russia conflict.)
Getting refugee status as a Ukrainian immigrant in the United States isn’t a fast or easy process even after president Biden announced the country will welcome 100,000 people from that country with the aim of reuniting families.
“The question is how do you process 100,000 people quickly,” says Juan Gomez, FIU Law Associate Clinical Professor.
More than four million Ukrainians have left their country, and some are looking to enter the U.S., however, American embassies in bordering countries are flooded with applicants. Wait times are up to almost a year — just to make an appointment. Another option that many are seeking is crossing the U.S. -Mexico border. But there is no guarantee those people will be let in — as hundreds of families camp outside waiting for entry
Asylum seekers must prove what the government calls “objective fear” and that they don’t have a third country they can go to — perhaps because of dual nationality. And even after one applies for asylum, the case can sit for years.
Immigration advocates have called out what they say is a double standard as Central American and Haitian migrants have been turned away under title 42, a policy put in place under the Trump administration in order to what the administration said was to stop the spread of Covid-19. (President Biden recently announced an end to that policy.)
Nikolai Ingistov-Garcia, a son of Ukrainians and Mexicans, denounces the different media portrayals of migrants at the border.
“The portrayal of the migrants who were leaving Ukraine was different than the portrayal of migrants who were leaving the Middle East, Syria, Caribbean, and Central America to the border,” Ingistov-Garcia says, “The refugees that are leaving Ukraine are living through extreme trauma right now… Families would see their family members being shot and killed. You’ll see for example families who were separated because parents were sending their kids to European countries alone. I am just mentioning this because the same thing happens in Central America.”
Title 42 expires May 23rd. In the meantime, a department of homeland security memo from march eleventh instructs customs and border protection officers to consider exempting Ukrainians from the policy. An agency spokesman said other individuals could be exempted on a case-by-case basis.