The Biden administration offered humanitarian relief to Ukrainians in the United States on Thursday, which could protect as many as 30,000 people from being deported.
Ukrainians can remain for up to 18 months under the federal program known as Temporary Protected Status.
“Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence” that has forced Ukrainians “to seek refuge in other countries,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said.
The program is for people fleeing ongoing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or extraordinary and temporary conditions. As many as 30,000 Ukrainians may benefit, according to The Migration Policy Institute.
Refugee advocates applauded the move.
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, called it “a concrete show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Protecting Ukrainian families from deportation is the least we can do amid a Russian onslaught that has targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure."
More than 4 million refugees may end up fleeing Ukraine due to Russia's ongoing invasion, the United Nations has said.
On Wednesday, the United Nations said that 1 million people have already fled since Russia began invading last week, an exodus without precedent in this century for its speed.
The United Nations says that “while the scale and scope of displacement is not yet clear, we do expect that more than 10 million people may flee their homes if violence continues, including 4 million people who may cross borders to neighboring countries,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.
Syria, whose civil war erupted in 2011, remains the country with the largest refugee outflows — nearly 5.7 million people, according to UNHCR’s figures. But even at the swiftest rate of flight out of that country, in early 2013, it took at least three months for 1 million refugees to leave Syria.