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MA Groups Call for Protections from Deportation for Ukrainian Residents

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Thursday, March 3, 2022   

The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition is among the groups urging the U.S. to take in as many Ukrainian refugees as possible, as Ukraine faces an ongoing invasion by Russia.

Massachusetts has more than 20,000 Ukrainian residents, and Gov. Charlie Baker has said he plans to work with the Biden administration to help refugees resettle in the Commonwealth.

Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Coalition, said it is important to protect undocumented Ukrainians who are in the U.S. now from deportation as the conflict ensues.

"That protection could be, for example, through the use of temporary protected status (TPS), which is a status determination usually given in some type of emergency situation," Sweet suggested. "It would protect them from being sent back to Ukraine, given the circumstances."

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are roughly 30,000 Ukrainian immigrants who would benefit from TPS. In addition, more than 100 recipients of the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program, and more than 1,700 international students are from Ukraine.

Sweet noted while countries neighboring Ukraine have taken in massive numbers of refugees, there have been reports of nonwhite residents getting stuck at the border, including immigrants from Lebanon, Nigeria and India.

She argued the U.S. needs to beef up its refugee program.

"This crisis is reminding us of all of the refugees around the world who are fleeing conflict in dangerous situations," Sweet pointed out. "The reality is that our refugee resettlement program here in the United States is a relatively small program."

She added the U.S. is not even on track to bring in its goal of 125,000 refugees for the fiscal year. Since the invasion began a week ago, more than 650,000 Ukrainians have fled the country and about 160,000 are still in Ukraine, but displaced from their homes and communities.


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