Joyce Leads Effort to Provide Ukrainians with A Safe Haven Amid Russian Invasion

Mar 01, 2022
Press

WASHINGTON, DC – Tonight, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14), a member of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, and several of his colleagues led a bipartisan letter to President Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, urging them to immediately designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine. Additional co-leads of this important letter include Reps. Mike Quigley (IL-05), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Andy Harris (MD-01), and Melanie Stansbury (NM-01).

Specifically, Joyce and his fellow lawmakers urged the President to use all available pathways under the law to protect the tens of thousands of Ukrainian nationals currently living on a nonimmigrant visa in the United States, including a designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine or a grant of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Ukrainian nationals, and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukrainian students. Without these designations, approximately 32,000 Ukrainian nationals currently in the United States could be forced to return to a war-torn nation under siege by the Russian military.

You can find the full text of the letter here and below.

Dear President Biden:

As we submit this letter to you, Russia is launching an unprovoked, large-scale invasion on Ukraine, leaving that country in the midst of an armed conflict to maintain its sovereignty. There are tens of thousands of Ukrainian nationals on a nonimmigrant visa in the United States, and without action by your Administration, they could be forced to return to a nation under siege. We urge your Administration to use all available pathways under the law to protect such individuals, including a designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Ukraine or a grant of Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Ukrainian nationals, and Special Student Relief (SSR) for Ukrainian students.

Section 244(b)(1)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate a country for TPS if there is an “ongoing armed conflict” such that the return of nationals to that country would “pose a serious threat to their personal safety.”  Similarly, nationals of a country may receive a temporary administrative stay of removal in the form of DED, by Executive Order or a Presidential Memorandum, under such circumstances.  For F-1 students from parts of the world that are experiencing “emergent circumstances,” including “wars and military conflicts,” the Secretary of Homeland Security may announce SSR, which allows for the suspension of certain regulatory requirements, including duration of status, full course of study, and off-campus employment eligibility.

 As a result of the recent invasion, Ukraine clearly meets these criteria. Amid Russian assaults on several Ukrainian cities, hundreds have already been killed and injured. Russian forces’ capture of the Chernobyl nuclear plant risks the release of radioactive dust throughout the country.  Ukrainian officials have confirmed that civilian targets have now come under fire as Russia continues to launch heavy shelling and airstrikes. The assault has forced thousands of Ukrainians to flee west, and harrowing images show innocent civilians seeking shelter in subway stations.  In a statement, President Biden indicated that Putin’s premeditated war “will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”  The ongoing invasion is the largest ground war Europe has seen since the Second World War.

The Ukrainian people have proven to be incredibly brave in defending their homeland. We know they will continue to resist Russian aggression. However, there are approximately 30,000 Ukrainian nationals in the United States who would be eligible for relief under TPS or DED , and roughly 2,000 students in the United States eligible for SSR.  We cannot force these individuals to return to a nation likely to be mired in prolonged armed conflict. To do so would be to abandon our nation’s commitment to protecting human rights. In this time of crisis, we must reaffirm our commitment to America’s most sacred values and ensure Ukrainian nationals in the United States are provided a safe haven.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue. We look forward to your response.

To review additional actions Joyce has taken over the years to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable for its increasingly aggressive behavior in Eastern Europe, click here.

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