Biden Admin Launches Ukrainian Refugee Sponsorship Program

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new sponsorship program Thursday aimed at helping Ukrainian refugees enter the U.S.

The program, called “Uniting for Ukraine,” will launch April 25. In addition to helping fulfill Biden’s promise to allow up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion into the U.S., the program is meant to discourage these individuals from trying to enter the U.S. illegally through the southern border, administration officials said according to CBS News.

“Uniting for Ukraine” will allow American citizens and organizations to sponsor Ukrainians wishing to come to the country. The program will give Ukrainians the opportunity to both live and work in the country for up to two years, according to the administration.

“This program will be fast. It’ll be streamlined,” Biden said in remarks Thursday morning.

Those wishing to sponsor Ukrainian refugees will need to undergo background checks and be approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ahead of time.

Ukrainian refugees applying for sponsorship will also undergo security checks and will need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to CNN.

While the administration’s latest program is designed to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to come to the U.S., it’s also meant to try to address those heading to the border to try and enter the country.

“[The program] will ensure the United States honors its commitment to go to – the people of Ukraine and need not go through our southern border,” Biden noted briefly Thursday.

Almost 15,000 undocumented Ukrainians have been processed by U.S. immigration officials over the course of three months, a senior DHS official told reporters Thursday, according to CBS News.

The southern border is already suffering from a surge of migrants trying to cross. In March, the number of Ukrainians processed at the southern border increased by over 1,100% compared to February, CBS News noted.

The border crisis has been compounded by the impending end of Title 42. Fox News reported Wednesday that, though Title 42 doesn’t end until May 23, border patrol agents have already been told to stop enforcing it.

Regarding Ukrainians refugees, officials at the border had previously been instructed to consider bypassing Title 42 restrictions due to humanitarian reasons, CBS News reported. (RELATED: After More Than A Month-Long Delay, DHS Finalizes Ukraine Refugee Rule)

With the “Uniting for Ukraine” program slated to begin, however, administration officials told reporters Thursday that they’ll no longer provide those exceptions for Ukrainians trying to cross the U.S. at the border.

“Ukrainian nationals who present and do not have a visa or have not gone through the ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ program will no longer be paroled, unless they have some other factor that would lead a border official, a CBP officer, to make a case-by-case determination that do they merit a humanitarian exception for Title 42,” a senior DHS official said according to CBS News.