Russian Invasion of Ukraine Sparks Expansion of Government Protections for Ukrainians
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, world leaders swiftly enacted policies to support Ukraine and sanction Russia. State and federal officials in the United States recently echoed this sentiment, offering support to displaced Ukrainians.
Pennsylvania Governor Vows Ongoing Support for Ukraine
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced his ongoing support for Ukraine and vowed he would take action as Governor to support the country. His announcement is particularly meaningful as Pennsylvania is home to more than 122,000 Ukrainians – the second most in any U.S. state.
Specifically, Gov. Wolf announced his support for state legislation to include Russia among the countries from which Pennsylvania divests all public funds. In doing so, the governor aims to eliminate any financial support for Russia from Pennsylvania. Additionally, the governor supported legislation to provide $2 million in state funds to support any displaced Ukrainians who flee the war-torn country and come to Pennsylvania.
Gov. Wolf noted he has “repeatedly joined President Biden and other leaders across the globe to condemn the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and we have and will continue to take real, meaningful actions to support Ukraine […] I strongly support adding Russia to the list of countries we divest from under the law. Pennsylvania also stands ready to accept Ukrainians fleeing violence. You are safe and welcome here.”
Department of Homeland Security Designates Ukraine for TPS
On March 3, 2022, in response to the conflict in the Ukraine, DHS, announced the designation of Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) for a period of 18 months. TPS allows eligible foreign nationals to live in the United States, and in some cases, to work in the United States for a limited period. Typically, DHS reserves the TPS designation for nationals of a country experiencing armed conflict, environmental disasters, or any temporary and extraordinary conditions that would prevent the person from returning safely to their country. Many other countries have been designated for TPS, including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
In a sign of support for Ukrainians arriving in the United States, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas stated “Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries. In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”
In the coming weeks and months, many Ukrainians will arrive in the United States for safe harbor – many of them coming to Pennsylvania With Gov. Wolf making state funding available, and the immigration system granting temporary status, Ukrainians will be greeted with policies designed to assist them in their time of need. It is the duty of lawmakers to ensure this support continues for the duration of the conflict.