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HIAS Applauds Congress for Ukraine Funding, but Concerns Remain

SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS applauds Congress for approving the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022, which provides nearly $5 billion in humanitarian assistance funding for Ukraine and neighboring countries. The bill also authorizes citizens or nationals of Ukraine who come to the U.S. with humanitarian parole under the Uniting for Ukraine program to be eligible for limited resettlement benefits. While these are important steps in support of people fleeing the war in Ukraine, HIAS has concerns about elements not included in the legislation, in particular the lack of an Afghan Adjustment Act.

“We thank Congress for this much-needed humanitarian assistance, with funding for refugee support services like housing, food security, English language classes, and public health measures that include support for those who have experienced trauma,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ senior vice president for global public affairs. 

However, the organization pointed out that the bill does not include funding for Ukrainian parolees to receive the same support during their first 90 days that people who come through the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) receive, which raises a number of potential challenges. While Congress authorized funds to allow for longer-term integration support, immediate needs that Ukrainian parolees may have upon arrival in the United States, even with the support of their sponsors, may not be met. In addition, while Ukrainian parolees are able to work in the United States, they must first apply for work authorization, which can take a long time. 

“The administration could have admitted Ukrainian refugees under the refugee program, but they are coming under humanitarian parole. The primary responsibility of ensuring the well-being of these people falls to their friends, family, and community members. In cases where this support falls short or falls through, there’s not much of a safety net,” Nezer said.  

HIAS today renewed its call for the administration and Congress to commit to resettling refugees through the U.S. refugee admissions program, rather than heavily relying upon parole – a program that does not provide support or a clear path to permanent residence – and to commit to rebuilding the USRAP to have the capacity to respond to future refugee crises. 

“We are also extremely disappointed that this bill does not include an Afghan Adjustment Act, which would give Afghans who entered the country under humanitarian parole following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan the opportunity to apply to become legal permanent residents, rather than living with an uncertain immigration status,” Nezer said. “It is imperative that we provide stability to both Afghans and the communities that have welcomed them, and we must do the same for newly arriving Ukrainians, who may not be able to return home for the foreseeable future.” 

Finally, HIAS joins President Biden in calling on Congress to move quickly to pass a global COVID funding bill, and continues to be disappointed that lawmakers have not approved funding that would help efforts to achieve global vaccine equity, including for refugees and displaced people.   

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