REP. GOMEZ LEADS 98 MEMBERS IN URGING BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO DESIGNATE UKRAINE FOR TPS OR DED AND SPECIAL STUDENT RELIEF
Washington, February 28, 2022 | Bertha Guerrero (202-770-6959)
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) led a letter with 98 of his House Colleagues urging the Biden administration to immediately designate 18 months of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukraine. Russian military aggression in Ukraine has led to a humanitarian crisis, which continues to worsen. The letter also requests a 180-day registration period and the launch of a culturally competent outreach campaign to notify the impacted community of the decision.
“Given the already unmet humanitarian need in the country and the effects of the armed conflict with Russia, the Ukrainian government is in no state to receive TPS and SSR eligible Ukrainians,” wrote the lawmakers. “A widespread conflict and refugee crisis like that unfolding in Ukraine is exactly what the TPS and SSR designations were designed for. TPS and SSR for Ukrainians support U.S. foreign policy goals by alleviating pressure on the Ukrainian government during the ongoing humanitarian crisis.”
177 immigration and humanitarian organizations joined Rep. Gomez in calling for protections for the Ukrainian people and sent a letter to the Biden administration on February 25, 2022. A copy of the letter is here.
“Many members of the Ukrainian American Bar Association have loved ones and countrymen both in the United States and in Ukraine who continue to fight for their freedom and independence,” said Victoria Kulik, President of the Ukrainian American Bar Association. “The U.S. government must work to protect Ukrainians here in the United States. Temporary Protected Status and Special Student Relief are essential parts of a complete humanitarian response to protect Ukrainians here and abroad until stability can be reached.”
“The administration has the authority to immediately designate lifesaving protections including Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure for Ukrainians already in the United States,” said Lora Adams, Campaign Coordinator for the Temporary Protected Status Deferred Enforced Departure Administrative Advocacy Coalition. “Circumstances like these are exactly why Congress created TPS, to provide safe haven and ensure that no one is returned to conditions where their lives or freedom would be at risk. TPS is a key part of any U.S. government response to war and humanitarian disaster and should be designated now.”
See the full text of the letter below.
February 28, 2022
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
301 7th St, SW
Washington, DC 20528
The Honorable Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, and Secretary Blinken,
We write to express our concern that the Russian military invasion in Ukraine, an ongoing armed conflict, makes it impossible for Ukrainian nationals in the United States to return to the country. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that roughly 30,000 Ukrainians in the United States would be potential beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure, as they do not have U.S. citizenship or permanent status. We urge you to immediately designate for 18-months TPS and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukrainians, launch a public information campaign to notify those eligible of the available relief and any actions they must take, and provide at least a 180-day registration period in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
On February 23, 2022, shortly after Russia launched its invasion, President Biden stated that the war “will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.” Senior Biden administration officials, briefing lawmakers on February 3, 2022, warned that a full invasion could result in potential deaths of 25,000 to 50,000 civilians, 5,000 to 25,000 members of the Ukrainian military, and 3,000 to 10,000 members of the Russian army. Officials also estimate that the conflict could produce one million to five million refugees. The UNHCR has stated, “the humanitarian consequences on civilian populations will be devastating.”
The human costs of armed conflict are clear and will contribute to current humanitarian crises in the country. Almost 1.5 million internally displaced people live in Ukraine, mostly from the disputed Donbas region and the Crimean peninsula. Last year, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that 3.4 million people living in Ukraine need humanitarian assistance. The Ukraine Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) called for $168 million to assist 1.9 million people in 2021. However, in August 2021, the Ukraine HRP was only 27 percent funded, demonstrating a level of unmet need even before the current military invasion.
Given the already unmet humanitarian need in the country and the effects of the armed conflict with Russia, the Ukrainian government is in no state to receive TPS and SSR eligible Ukrainians. Returning these Ukrainians to an at-war country would further destabilize the country by inundating them with a large number of deportees. Their return would also put these Ukrainian individuals in great personal danger. A widespread conflict and refugee crisis like that unfolding in Ukraine is exactly what the TPS and SSR designations were designed for. TPS and SSR for Ukrainians support U.S. foreign policy goals by alleviating pressure on the Ukrainian government during the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
We request that you designate TPS and SSR for 18-months for Ukraine, and launch a culturally competent public information campaign to notify the impacted community of the decision and any actions that they must take. We thank you for your attention and request urgent action on this matter.