White House should give temporary protected status to Ukrainian refugees and immigrants, ABA president urges
Updated: ABA President Reginald Turner called on the Biden administration Wednesday to designate Ukraine for “temporary protected status”—an immigration status granted to nationals of certain countries who are unable to return home safely because of ongoing armed conflict or other extraordinary conditions.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Turner asked that the administration provide TPS for at least 18 months to eligible nationals and residents of Ukraine in the United States.
“The world has watched in horror as the Russian Federation’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine continues unabated,” Turner wrote. “Missile attacks and shelling continue in numerous locations around the country. Airspace over Ukraine is closed, martial law has been declared, and there have been many military and civilian casualties.
“More than one million persons are internally displaced and nearly 700,000 have sought refuge in countries bordering Ukraine. Those who remain face grave physical danger, as well as shortages of food, medical assistance, and other life sustaining necessities. The situation grows more dire each hour.”
Turner contended that designating Ukraine for TPS is consistent with both the law and the United States’ history of offering humanitarian protection to individuals who are fleeing persecution, torture or armed conflict.
He added that the ABA has “long supported a humane and enforceable safe haven mechanism” that protects those who cannot return to their home countries and now joins bipartisan members of Congress and other nongovernmental organizations in advocating for an immediate TPS designation for Ukraine.
On Thursday, the day after Turner sent his letter, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Ukrainians within the United States as of March 1 would be granted TPS status for 18 months.
Ukrainians are not the only people the ABA has advocated should receive TPS; this fall, the association held workshops to help pro bono attorneys assist Haitians who were attempting to apply for TPS. At the most recent ABA House of Delegates in February, a resolution urging the Biden administration to improve and streamline the asylum process and immigration system was approved overwhelmingly.
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Updated on March 3 with the news that TPS status was granted to Ukraine.