Biden administration considering protecting Ukrainians in the U.S. from deportation

BY CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ

FEBRUARY 24, 2022 / 11:25 PM / CBS NEWS

The Biden administration is considering protecting certain Ukrainians living in the U.S. from deportation due to Russia’s military attack against Ukraine, two people familiar with the deliberations told CBS News Thursday.

The deportation relief could be authorized through a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas or a Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) order by President Biden, the sources said, requesting anonymity to discuss ongoing discussions.

U.S. immigration law authorizes the DHS secretary to offer TPS to immigrants in the U.S. if it is determined that their home countries are unable to safely accept deportees because of armed conflict, natural disasters, an epidemic or other “extraordinary” emergencies.

DED, a similar policy, also offers temporary deportation protections to immigrants from a specific country or region. But unlike TPS, it is authorized by the president. Both programs also allow beneficiaries to apply for work permits.

Pro-Ukraine Rally Held In New York City
People draped in an American flag and Ukrainian Flag march towards The United Nations during a Stand With Ukraine Rally on February 24, 2022, in New York City. Ukrainians, Ukrainians Americans and ally’s marched from Times Square to the Russian Mission to The United Nations, the to the United Nations to show support for Ukraine and protest against the Russian invasion.ALEXI ROSENFELD / GETTY IMAGES

An estimated 355,000 Ukrainian immigrants reside in the U.S., according to government estimates. The Migration Policy Institute estimated Thursday that roughly 30,000 Ukrainians could be eligible for TPS or DED because they are neither U.S. citizens nor lawful permanent residents.

Potential beneficiaries could include Ukrainians with temporary U.S. visas, including students at American universities, as well as those without legal status. Both temporary deportation relief programs would not benefit new arrivals from Ukraine, where millions of refugees could be displaced due to the armed conflict with Russia, according to a U.S. assessment.

Asked earlier Thursday whether the administration would grant TPS to Ukrainians, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that would be a decision “made through an interagency process led by the Department of Homeland Security.”

“I don’t have any kind of prediction of that at this point in time,” Psaki said. Representatives for the White House and DHS said they did not have any policy announcements to make at this time.  

“As is always the case, we continue to closely monitor conditions in various countries across the globe,” DHS said in a statement earlier Thursday.

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