A Double Standard Between Ukrainian and Afghan Refugees?
In April, the Biden Administration expanded opportunities for Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s brutal invasion, to enter the United States. Most notably, it has offered Ukrainians a limited form of private refugee sponsorship, under which they can enter the US if sponsored by a private individual or organization. But critics, including refugee advocates and a group of Democratic senators, argue that this policy treats Ukrainian refugees better than similarly situated Afghan refugees, fleeing the brutal oppression of the Taliban, which retook the country in the wake of the US withdrawal last year:
“While the U.S. response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has been admirable, it is unfortunate that this welcoming and accommodating model is not the standard for all humanitarian crises, wherever they occur, whether in Haiti, throughout Central America, in Africa, the Pacific, and elsewhere,” the senators wrote….
The Uniting for Ukraine (U4U) program, created last month, allows Ukrainians to apply for temporary refuge, known as humanitarian parole, in the United States if they meet certain basic criteria, including that they lived in Ukraine at the time of the Russian invasion and that they have a U.S.-based sponsor to vouch for them. The Russia invasion of Ukraine began in February.
Since the U4U program launched last month, “nearly 22,000 Ukrainian nationals have been authorized to travel to the United States to apply for parole,” said Angelo Fernández Hernández, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.
While refugee advocates have applauded the program for its humanitarian breadth, it has also been criticized by several American veterans groups, refugee resettlement organizations, and Afghan advocates, who say the administration has simultaneously hindered tens of thousands of Afghans from seeking refuge the same way….
Administration officials say the comparison is unfair. The Biden administration last year brought more than 76,000 Afghan evacuees to the United States, most as humanitarian parolees, after a chaotic August withdrawal ushered in the collapse of the U.S.-backed government and the return of Taliban control.
Two thousand more Afghans have followed in the months since, and Operation Allies Welcome, as the government has called the mass resettlement effort, represents its own “separate pipeline to welcome our Afghans allies,” said a senior official….
The U4U program is far from a general open door to Ukrainian refugees. It has a variety of limitations, including the need for a US sponsor, and the fact that it offer