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New Program Will Speed Ukrainian Asylum Process

President Biden on Thursday announced a new program to expedite the U.S. asylum process for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: “The ‘Unite for Ukraine’ program will allow individual Americans and nonprofits to sponsor Ukrainian refugees, provided they can financially support them.”

  • The new initiative is part of a broader push by the administration to assist Ukrainians as they fend of Russia’s attacks.
  • The president also announced on Thursday $1.3 billion in direct government and military-hardware aid to Ukraine.

How it will work: The new asylum program “will be centered on a web portal through which U.S.-based individuals and groups can apply to become sponsors and upload documents, according to a fact sheet from the Department of Homeland Security. The portal will go live on Monday.”

  • To be eligible, applicants must have lived in Ukraine as of Feb. 11, and they must get vaccinated and undergo biometric screening and background checks before being admitted. 

The bigger picture: “In March, Biden pledged that the U.S. would accept as many as 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. But until now, there was no specific information on how the process would work.”

  • Many refugees have traveled to Mexico–U.S. border locations, where they have been granted special refugee status. Beginning Monday, this workaround will be canceled.
  • Since March, Ukrainian refugees have been exempted from Title 42, which requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deport asylum seekers rather than allow them into the country while they await hearings.
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