The US plans to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war with Russia, the White House said today. More than 3.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine, according to the UNHCR, with most going to neighboring Poland.
While the Biden administration didn’t give a timeline for the commitment, it could represent the largest number of arrivals since the Bosnian war.
US last accepted more than 100,000 refugees in the 1990s
The US hasn’t accepted so many refugees since the end of the Vietnam War in 1980, and the conflict in Bosnia in the 1990s. In 1994 the US admitted more than 112,000 refugees, after which the number dropped.
Since the US pulled out of Afghanistan after two decades last August, it has admitted 76,000 Afghan refugees into the country. But outside of these Afghan evacuees, who were granted humanitarian parole, the US admitted just 11,411 refugees in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2021, the lowest in the US resettlement program’s 40-year history. A number of resettlement agencies lost staff and funding during the Trump administration, when US commitments to resettle refugees dropped to record lows.
How will Ukrainian refugees come to the US?
The Biden administration said it would use “the full range of legal pathways” to bring Ukrainian refugees into the US, including the refugee resettlement program. Other approaches may include family visas and humanitarian parole.
Still, administration officials told Reuters they expect Ukrainian refugees to remain in Europe, where they have more connections. Ukrainians have been allowed to travel to EU countries without a visa since 2017, and are now entitled to residence permits within the bloc that allow them to work and enroll in education programs.