Top Hispanic lawmaker urges Biden to expedite reunification of Ukrainians in US
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) on Friday sent a letter to President Biden requesting he raise the refugee admission cap for 2022 in order to accept Ukrainian refugees and expedite their “family reunification.”
Ruiz, the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, penned the letter on behalf of the caucus. The lawmaker urged the president to issue an emergency determination to increase refugee admissions, arguing it was crucial to bolster the U.S. Refugee Admission Program (USRAP) after more than 2 million Ukrainians have fled their country amid a brutal Russian invasion.
“Future refugees will include people without passports or visas, the indigent, disabled, sick, young, and the elderly,” Ruiz wrote in the letter. “The crisis could overwhelm the countries currently hosting many of the Ukrainian refugees, and the United States must lead in the effort to assist these countries in helping the vulnerable escape war.”
Russia’s invasion is entering into its third week, driving a mass humanitarian crisis in Europe. The United Nations estimates up to 5 million Ukrainians could flee the country.
The majority of refugees have so far fled into neighboring Poland, but Ruiz said the U.S. should be prepared to accept refugees as well and that Biden should increase the amount of refugees accepted through USRAP.
“Raising the refugee cap would send a powerful message to our allies,” Ruiz argued in his letter, and “give the United States the moral leadership to ask other nations to continue these important measures for as long as the crisis necessitates.”
Biden last year increased the number of refugees accepted into USRAP to 125,000 after former President Trump dropped it to a historically low number. The new admission cap included 10,000 slots put under an unallocated reserve.
Ruiz also encouraged Biden to expedite family reunification by quickly processing applications and by processing Ukrainians with currently pending visa applications as refugees.
The lawmaker also cited other crises in the world, including the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last year, as another reason to increase refugee admissions.
“Our commitment cannot end at this crisis, but instead we must embrace our international commitments and our responsibilities to the vulnerable. Our country cannot only protect one group,” he wrote. “We must protect everyone seeking freedom.”