Thursday, May 26, 2022

Senators Urge Biden Administration to Address Disparate Treatment of Afghan and Ukrainian Refugees


As has been observed on this blog, Ukrainian and Afghan refugees have received very different treatment by the nations of the world. 

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today led his colleagues in a letter to the Biden administration raising concerns about the stark inconsistencies in the treatment of humanitarian parole applicants from Ukraine and Afghanistan. The letter points out that while applications from Ukrainians are expeditiously processed through a new and cost-free “Uniting for Ukraine” program, applications from Afghans are subject to lengthier and expensive processing. Additionally, Afghans are required to complete an in-person consular interview and provide proof that they were personally targeted for violence by the Taliban, while Ukrainians do not need to complete an interview at the consulate and only need to prove that they lived in Ukraine at the time of the Russian invasion. The lawmakers further note that they admire the U.S. response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis, but would hope that the same welcoming and accommodating approach applied to all those fleeing humanitarian crises, wherever they occur.

“The inconsistent treatment of Afghan and Ukrainian humanitarian parole applications is troubling,” wrote the Senators. “Afghans and Ukrainians have turned to humanitarian parole because other pathways out of their respective countries and to the United States, such as family reunification, are inaccessible or backlogged, and therefore inadequate in the face of immediate danger. We urge USCIS to adopt an approach to Afghan parole applications that mirrors the new treatment of Ukrainian applications, including accelerating the processing of Afghan parole applications, waiving (or refunding) application fees, and not requiring a showing of targeted violence.”

A copy of this letter can be found HERE.

Senator Markey was joined in today’s letter by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass).


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