Amnesty International USA welcomes the Biden administration’s initial efforts to welcome Ukrainians through a special parole program, and we urge the U.S. to do more to adequately address the urgent needs of Ukrainians and all people fleeing conflict, including Afghans and other Black and Brown communities in need of protection and direct support from the U.S. government.
While providing temporary legal status, the program would not provide resettlement services such as healthcare, employment services, and other case management support otherwise provided through the U.S. Refugee Assistance Program. All people seeking safety, along with immigrant communities across the United States, should have access to the support services needed to thrive.
At the same time, the establishment of this Ukrainian parole program is far beyond the protections provided for people of color. Black, Brown and Indigenous people seeking safety continue to face cruelty and pushback at the U.S. southern border, harsh conditions and abuse in U.S. immigration detention. Above all, they are imperiled by the looming threat of deportation to countries impacted by conflict. Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, AIUSA and countless others have called for a special parole program for Afghans who were left behind in the evacuation. Meanwhile, far more people in need of protection around the world are stuck waiting for years in the refugee resettlement pipeline.
In recent months, communities around the country have shown great willingness to welcome people seeking safety with open arms and open hearts, whether they are from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Haiti, or elsewhere. The U.S. government’s response to Ukrainians fleeing violence shows us how the United States’ immigration system can operate to welcome people where there is the political will, underscoring the urgent need to protect all seeking safety. Rebuilding welcome for all must entail eliminating all biases, racial inequities and anti-Blackness at the core of the U.S. immigration system and resettlement response. Black and Brown people fleeing conflict and crisis around the world – from Afghanistan, to Haiti, to Sudan and beyond – must be afforded the same compassion and protections.
AIUSA urges the Biden administration to continue to fully utilize the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program to welcome Ukrainians and all people fleeing conflict while ensuring and expanding other pathways to protection. The administration must also provide welcome services to Ukrainians and third-country nationals from Ukraine who enter with humanitarian parole, and ensure access to such services and benefits for all immigrant communities bearing the brunt of the vast economic inequalities in the United States. Lastly, the administration must urgently restore access to asylum by ending harmful policies such as the Migrant Protection Protocols, Title 42, arbitrary, mass immigration detention, and other policies used to undermine the right to asylum under international law.
Contact: Gabby Arias, [email protected]