WASHINGTON: Ukrainians who entered the United States through the Mexico border last year will be able to renew their humanitarian status and keep receiving government benefits like health insurance and food stamps under the Biden administration.


Thousands of migrants from a select group of countries have been allowed to enter the country in recent years on a temporary emergency basis, and this extension is a victory for advocates who have urged the administration of US President Joe Biden to expand legal pathways for them.
On Monday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the asylum status of some 25,000 Ukrainians who entered the US through Mexico in the early months of 2022 to escape the conflict in their home country would be extended for an additional year. Since they had few other options, many people presented themselves at the US-Mexico border.

Biden’s “Uniting for Ukraine” program allowed Ukrainians with US sponsors to enter the country via air and discouraged border crossings in April of last year in response to mounting pressure to accept more refugees. DHS reports that more than 118,000 Ukrainians have entered the United States under this program and been granted “humanitarian parole” for a period of two years, which will not end until 2024 or later.

About 77,000 Afghans are expected to arrive in the United States in 2021 as a result of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and advocates for immigrants hope to secure a similar extension for them. Later this year, the humanitarian parole of many Afghans may expire.

Church World Service’s director of policy and advocacy Meredith Owen argued that a similar extension for Afghans was “long past due.”