The new parole program, which could begin early next week, is expected to help those interested in coming to the United States and allow them to stay temporarily in the country. According to an executive, individuals must fill out a sponsorship application on their behalf before being able to enter the country. Details of the project are yet to be finalized.
According to the executive, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are involved in the project. Similar to the attitude taken towards the Afghans after the fall of Kabul.
CNN approached the White House for comment. The State Department recommended CNN to the Department of Homeland Security, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since Biden announced last month that it would welcome 100,000 Ukrainians, officials have been discussing how to prioritize applicants and accommodate refugees who may face potential harassment.
The White House is somewhat focused on protecting vulnerable refugees, individuals with specific medical needs or individuals from third countries who have already fled to Ukraine to escape persecution elsewhere – including protesters, journalists and the LGBTQ population.
The policy process, which includes what mechanism people leaving Ukraine can use to come to the United States, has been the topic of conversation between executive officials since the president’s announcement.
However, Biden’s aides continue to believe that most of the more than 4 million people who fled Ukraine would like to remain in the region. An official said the 100,000 figures released by Biden during a visit to Brussels in March did not necessarily reflect the number of refugees that US officials believe will eventually enter the United States.
The United States has provided billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to neighboring Ukraine, including Poland, which Biden visited with refugees and aid workers last month.
On Monday, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi met with National Security Council officials at the White House to discuss the refugee crisis in Europe. On Tuesday he also met with Secretary of State Anthony Blingen.
The routine refugee resettlement route to the United States is a slow and complex process that can take years. In March, only a dozen Ukrainians came to the United States through this program, which they may have applied for many years before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Dozens of Ukrainians are resettling in the United States every month, but flights were canceled due to the closure of commercial airspace in war-torn Ukraine, and refugees are preparing to return to the United States as refugees, refugee lawyers say. Their flights are gradually being re-booked from other countries.
In a recent two-party letter, lawmakers, mostly Democrats, suggested that the administration “use existing administrative options to improve efficient implementation for Ukrainians outside the United States who are already eligible for immigration benefits.” The lawmakers said it would include providing additional resources to U.S. embassy staff in Europe involved in the processing of immigrants and refugees and waiving immigration application fees.
Refugee lawyers, who are closely involved in the resettlement of refugees, have expressed concern about the parole admission of Ukrainians because it prevents them from accessing the benefits offered to refugees.
“They have discovered this new approach through parole, which has no security, no safety net, so it’s worrying that if the applicant wants to stay here permanently, they leave the applicants at the mercy of the backlog and the broken asylum system,” Mark Headfield said. President and CEO of HIAS, a refugee resettlement organization.
The challenge that some Ukrainians face in going to the United States through the existing legal route is reflected in part of the US-Mexico border. There, hundreds gathered to enter the United States through the port of entry and to be paroled into the United States.
Secretary of Defense Alejandro Myorgas told CBS News last week that nearly 3,000 Ukrainians had entered the United States on the U.S.-Mexico border in a week.
“What we do on an individual basis is to assess whether the Ukrainian family and other families in other countries qualify for our preferred power to grant humanitarian parole,” Miorgos said.
The agency said U.S. Customs and Border Security had sent additional officers to the San Jacitro port gateway near the Mexican border town of Tijuana to assist with the process.
For those already in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the form of humanitarian relief – known as temporary protection – allowing Ukrainians to stay in the United States without fear of deportation if they leave. Lawmakers have called for the ban to be extended to those who have recently arrived. Currently, Ukrainians must have been in the United States since March 1 to qualify.
Jennifer Hansler of CNN contributed to this report.