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Update: State Department weeks away from announcing immigration plan for Ukrainian refugees

State department weeks away from announcing immigration plan for Ukrainian refugees
Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 12:24 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Ukrainian refugees eyeing a move to the US are not finding it easy. Those stateside trying to help them are finding a roadblock as well.

On March 24th, President Biden made a commitment to help 100,000 Ukrainians hoping to move to America.

The option was a ray of hope for people like Regina Brunz’s two aunts and their children who fled Ukraine to Poland.

“The status of like refugee resources and polling is just like it’s reached its max capacity. So housing is really hard to come by for refugees,” said Brunz.

Senator Mike Rounds is hearing from South Dakotans with ties to Ukraine.

“Thirty different families or individuals have made contact with our office, expressing an interest in finding a way to assist either Ukrainian families or to offer their assistance in getting individuals here and getting them settled,” said Senator Rounds.

Unfortunately, Rounds has to advise his constituents, that he’s waiting too.

“I think while the President is well-meaning in saying that he will offer the opportunity for 100,000 Ukrainians to come to the United States, they did not do the follow up to the State Department yet in order to get a program in place that could be executed on,” said Rounds.

A spokesperson for Lutheran Social Services says the organization is ready to help Ukrainian Refugees with support to travel and settle here, but that can’t until they get the green light from the Federal level.

We followed up with the State Department to get a timeline and details of their plan. A spokesperson says:

We are exploring how we might accelerate the arrival of Ukrainian citizens with family ties in the United States, in the interest of family reunification. We expect to have more to share on this initiative in the weeks to come.”

“We’ll continue to push to get good details and we’ll share those details with the South Dakotans that have made contact with our office as soon as we possibly can,” said Rounds.

As lives and futures weigh in the balance, family in South Dakota is supporting refugees waiting in Ukraine. Regina continues to collect donations to help pay for her Aunts’ and cousins’ apartment in Poland. Those wanting to help with support can contact Brunz at reginawbrunz@gmail.com

“They don’t have housing, they don’t have medical support, they don’t have food and funds. And so we are continuing to funnel funds to them,” said Brunz.

Some Ukrainians have applied for visitor visas, only to be denied as they must show intent to return to Ukraine, once their visas have expired.

U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson commented: “More than 4 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes. The U.S. should stand unified with our allies against Putin’s regime. While the majority of refugees prefer to stay in Europe, I look forward to learning more about the administration’s plan to assist, vet, and relocate a small number of Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. – especially those with family already here,” said Johnson.

U.S. Department of State spokesperson Daniel Binder provided insight on how long the wait could be.

“At this time, we are considering all options to expand legal pathways for Ukrainians.

We are exploring how we might accelerate the arrival of Ukrainian citizens with family ties in the United States, in the interest of family reunification. We expect to have more to share on this initiative in the weeks to come.

Consular posts throughout Europe continue to accept and process cases for Ukrainian citizens and others with particular protection needs. They will accept cases wherever Ukrainian citizens and others with particular protection needs are physically located.

Refugee resettlement is meant to be a permanent durable solution. We understand most displaced Ukrainians in the immediate term will want to stay in neighboring countries or elsewhere in the EU in the hope they can voluntarily return home once it is safe to do so.

The Department will work with the EU, UNHCR, resettlement partners, and our overseas posts to determine whether Ukrainian citizens who have departed Ukraine require resettlement to a third country because they cannot be protected in their current location.”

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