U.S. Push to Protect Ukrainians Gets Bipartisan Lawmaker Boost

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A bipartisan coalition of senators is insisting that President Joe Biden offer legal protection to Ukrainians living in the U.S.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who leads the Judiciary Committee, on Monday led a letter calling on Biden to quickly “ensure that Ukrainian nationals present in the United States are not forced to return to Ukraine.” Russia invaded the country last week, attacking military and civilian targets and sparking an international security crisis.

The administration should designate Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status, which would allow Ukrainians already present in the U.S. to remain for now, Durbin wrote, joined by dozens of Democrats and Republican Sens. Rob Portman (Ohio) and Kevin Cramer (N.D.).

Pressure for TPS and other humanitarian support has escalated as the fighting in Ukraine intensifies. Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) announced support for TPS last week.

“Granting TPS to the limited population of Ukrainians who are currently in the U.S. on a temporary basis will create a minimal disruption for our country, but forcing these individuals to return to a war zone would be unacceptable,” lawmakers told Biden in Monday’s letter.

The letter cites State Department data that just under 30,000 Ukrainians received nonimmigrant visas in fiscal 2020, the most recent data available, suggesting roughly that number of individuals would benefit from temporary protections.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com; Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com

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