US to extend humanitarian stay for Ukrainians who entered through Mexico

Many showed up at the US-Mexico border because they had few other avenues to reach the US

A Ukrainian mother and her child wait in Mexico until they are allowed to enter the US. AP
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The Biden administration will allow Ukrainians who entered the US at the Mexico border last year to renew their humanitarian status, giving them continued access to government benefits such as health insurance and food stamps.

The decision is a victory for advocates who have urged US President Joe Biden to expand legal ways for thousands of migrants from some countries who have been allowed to enter the country on a temporary emergency basis.

The US Department of Homeland Security said on Monday that about 25,000 Ukrainians who fled the conflict in Ukraine and sought refuge in the US through Mexico in early 2022 can extend their stay beyond the one-year permit they were initially granted.

Many showed up at the US-Mexico border because they had few other avenues to reach the US.

In April last year, under pressure to accept more refugees, Mr Biden launched the "Uniting for Ukraine" programme to allow the entry by air of Ukrainians with US sponsors and discourage border crossings.

More than 118,000 Ukrainians have gone to the US through that programme with two-year grants of "humanitarian parole" that will not expire until 2024 or later, the department said.

Immigrant advocates hope to secure a similar extension for an estimated 77,000 Afghans who arrived in the US in 2021 as part of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Many Afghans could have their humanitarian parole expire this year.

Updated: March 13, 2023, 9:45 PM