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Support for Ukrainian Refugees Should Extend to Others

Ukraine Refugees

Legal Help for Ukraine Refugees

The brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has resulted in more than one million refugees fleeing the country into bordering nations. As more Ukrainians continue to flee, the West, including the United States, is preparing to absorb a large influx of Ukraine refugees. On March 3, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that the US was extending temporary protective status to thousands of Ukrainians who are already present in the U.S., which protects them for 18 months from the threat of deportation.

While the country’s willingness to both accept refugees from Ukraine and give those already present TPS status, a New York immigration lawyer at Oltarsh & Associates might also question why people from other countries do not also receive similar protections. Recently, both a newly elected Republican Brooklyn Council member and Republican U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin of New York have both voiced support for Ukrainian refugees despite previously lauding the hardline immigration stances of the former administration.

Republicans Voice Support for Ukrainian Refugees but not Others

Inna Vernikov is a Ukrainian immigrant and was recently elected to the Brooklyn Council as a Republican. She has made multiple television appearances, has voiced support for Ukrainian refugees, and has met with New York Mayor Eric Adams since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

Ms. Vernikov has stated that her office is ready to help people from Ukraine in any way possible. She has also asked for donations for Ukrainian refugees on social media and has praised the city’s efforts to help Ukrainian Americans bring their family members to New York.

Elected in Nov. 2021 and a former Democrat, Ms. Vernikov ran as a Republican and an avid supporter of former President Donald Trump. Under the former administration, immigration authorities slashed the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. even though conflicts around the world, including in Yemen and Syria, caused millions of people to flee and seek asylum.

Donald Trump, Jr. supported Ms. Vernikov’s Bronx Council campaign and issued a robocall on her behalf. Since being elected, Ms. Vernikov has opposed giving the right to vote in local elections to undocumented residents of New York City.

Like Ms. Vernikov, Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is currently running for governor, also recently expressed support for Ukrainian refugees and stated that the government has a responsibility to help them seek asylum and resettle in the U.S. However, Rep. Zeldin co-sponsored a bill in Congress that would prohibit federal funding for initiatives to resettle Syrian refugees who are fleeing from that country’s civil war. When Zeldin was asked about the difference between his support for Ukrainian refugees vs. refugees from Syria, he stated that he would be less concerned about the documents provided by refugees from Ukraine than those provided by refugees from Syria.

Position of Immigration Avocates

While immigration rights advocates in New York are happy that there is more bipartisan support for helping refugees from Ukraine, they question why there isn’t bipartisan support for helping refugees from other war-torn countries. Immigration advocates believe that the U.S. should extend equal protections to all people who are fleeing from conflicts and persecution in their home countries. Regardless of where people come from, there shouldn’t be a difference in how they are treated when they have valid claims for asylee status.

Consult a New York Immigration Lawyer

If you are seeking status as a refugee in the U.S. or have family members who are fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries, you should talk to one of the New York immigration attorneys at Oltarsh & Associates. Our lawyers have decades of experience helping people with immigration issues. Contact us today to request a consultation by calling us at (212) 944-9420.

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