President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a new program to streamline the processing of Ukrainian refugees trying to come to the United States, CNN reports.
"This new humanitarian parole program will complement the existing legal pathways available to Ukrainians, including immigrant visas and refugee processing. It will provide an expedient channel for secure legal migration from Europe to the United States for Ukrainians who have a US sponsor, such as a family or an NGO," Biden told reporters.
Biden previously vowed to admit up to 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s aggression. More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war.
"This program will be fast. It will be streamlined,” Biden said. “And it will ensure the United States honors its commitment to go to the people of Ukraine and (they) need not go through our southern border."
The humanitarian parole program will require refugees to be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or by a resettlement organization.
Applicants will have to undergo extensive security vetting, including biometric screening, and complete all vaccinations and health requirements, including getting the Covid vaccine.
Ukrainians that lived in the country as of February 11 are eligible for the program.
Sponsors must also pass a security background check and declare financial support.
The programs will be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security.
"DHS will continue to provide relief to the Ukrainian people, while supporting our European allies who have shouldered so much as the result of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
Ukrainians head to Mexican border:
Because seeking refuge in the US is difficult from Europe, some Ukrainians have obtained visas to get to Mexico and then tried to enter the US through ports of entry.
About 5,000 Ukrainians have tried to enter the US through ports of entry.
A DHS official urged Ukrainians not to travel to Mexico to enter the US.
"Following the launch of Uniting for Ukraine, Ukrainians who present at land U.S. ports of entry without a valid visa or without pre-authorization to travel to the United States through Uniting for Ukraine will be denied entry and referred to apply through this program," according to DHS.