President Joe Biden is looking to relieve the pressure created by the mass exodus of Ukrainian refugees into European cities by allowing 100,000 to seek refuge in the U.S.
The mayors of Poland’s two largest cities have expressed concern about the influx of refugees from Ukraine, with United Nations figures indicating that over 1.7 million people have crossed into Poland in the weeks since Russia launched its attack.
Since February 24, when Russia’s invasion began, more than 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine. According to UN Human Rights Council data, over half have traveled to Poland.
“Three hundred thousand refugees have arrived in (Warsaw) since Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24. Our city remains the main destination for Ukrainian refugees. [The] Situation is getting more and more difficult every day,” Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski tweeted on March 11.
The Biden administration expects many Ukrainian evacuees to remain in Europe near their homeland but offers a place for many to seek refuge in the West.
“Many Ukrainian refugees will wish to stay in Europe, closer to their homes, but we’ll also welcome 100,000 Ukrainians to the United States with a focus on reuniting families,” Biden said, per The Washington Post.
The U.S. commitment to accept additional refugees would alleviate pressure on European nations currently hosting most refugees fleeing the conflict, which Russia refers to as a “special military operation.”
According to internal State Department data seen by Reuters, seven Ukrainian refugees resettled in the U.S. during the first two weeks of March.
“We recognize that some number of Ukrainians who have fled may wish to come to the United States temporarily,” a Biden administration official told reporters, according to Yahoo News.
While some of the people admitted will be refugees, the U.S. will also allow others to apply for parole or immigrate on non-immigrant visas, a U.S. official told Bloomberg, without elaborating on the arrival schedule. The official suggested that individuals fleeing the conflict could arrive in the U.S. over several years.
The Biden administration stated that it would utilize “the full range of legal pathways” to bring Ukrainians to the United States, including the U.S.’s refugee resettlement program, which offers a path toward citizenship.
According to Reuters, the White House is currently looking to take steps to ease the process for Ukrainian refugees seeking to reunite with family members in the United States.
The news that the U.S. would welcome refugees came the same day the Biden administration announced $1 billion in new humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The aid allocation was determined after Biden met with European leaders in Brussels last week to coordinate the Western response to the Russian invasion.