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IRAP Responds to Creation of Ukrainian Parole Program


April 21, 2022


Spencer Tilger | | (646) 761-2556


IRAP calls on the Biden administration to rebuild the U.S. refugee program and ensure equal welcome of displaced people

(New York, NY) – Today, the Biden administration announced the creation of Uniting for Ukraine, a dedicated parole program for people fleeing the war in Ukraine, following a previous commitment to “welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russia’s aggression.” 

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) welcomes the Biden administration’s efforts to support displaced Ukrainians, but is concerned by the unequal treatment of Ukrainians compared to other refugees and asylum seekers⁠—all of whom should be treated with greater dignity and due process. These disparities are especially acute given that last week marked the one year anniversary of President Biden’s announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Despite the administration’s stated commitments to protect vulnerable Afghans, the U.S. has resisted calls to implement a dedicated parole program for at-risk Afghans and has failed to process tens of thousands of Afghan humanitarian parole applications in a timely manner. Additionally, unless the administration announces new investments and staffing for the Ukraine program, agencies that are already stretched thin will be forced to move resources away from other refugees and asylum seekers who are also in urgent need of protection.

IRAP is also concerned by the administration’s reliance on temporary parole programs in lieu of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). With two and a half years left in this presidential term, the Biden administration has yet to improve or innovate USRAP so that it can quickly and effectively be used to welcome refugees from around the world from protracted displacement crises and unforeseen humanitarian emergencies, regardless of nationality.

The following is a quote from Sunil Varghese, Policy Director at IRAP:

“The Biden administration’s efforts to offer refuge for those fleeing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reflect the broad bipartisan support across Congress and the United States to protect displaced Ukrainians, but raises serious concerns about the disparate treatment of those fleeing violence or conflict in other countries. Accessible and effective programs to get people out of danger to safety in the United States should be the norm, not the exception. 

In order to ensure the U.S. can nimbly and effectively welcome people in need of safety, the Biden administration must prioritize investment in long-term capacity and innovation in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Relying on temporary parole amounts to putting bandages on open wounds. The administration cannot continue to lurch from one crisis to another without increasing overall capacity for permanent protection in the United States. Today’s announcement suggests that if the Biden administration wants to make refugee protection a priority, it can find a way to get there. The open question for the President is whether that political will exists.” 

Additional Information

  • Read IRAP’s reaction to the Biden administration’s announcement that the U.S. intends to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees: HERE
  • Read IRAP’s press release reflecting on the one year anniversary of the Afghanistan withdrawal announcement: HERE
  • Read IRAP’s January 2022 report, “Rebuilding the U.S. Refugee Program for the Future: 22 Recommendations for 2022”: HERE
  • Read IRAP’s March 2022 recommendations for a U.S. private sponsorship pilot program for refugees: HERE