Bishops support refugee administration’s “Unite for Ukraine” initiative

WASHINGTON, DC – The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of its commission on migration have expressed support for the Biden administration’s “Uniting for Ukraine” initiative to welcome Ukrainian refugees from in the USA.

“Many European countries have shown great concern for Ukrainians, welcoming them with open arms, and we should do the same,” said an April 22 joint statement by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of USCCB, and Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the migration committee.

“We are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable and hope that support will be provided to separated families, the elderly and those with urgent medical needs,” they said. “This type of initiative requires the federal government to provide a range of services to arriving families, in addition to those provided by individuals and private institutions, such as churches.”

The two bishops added, “As the national refugee resettlement agency, the USCCB looks forward to supporting displaced Ukrainians in the United States, as well as Catholic organizations, parishes, and people of goodwill across the country. country”.

The USCCB and the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia have partnered with Welcome.US as part of the Uniting for Ukraine initiative.

Under Uniting for Ukraine provisions, Ukrainians must have resided in Ukraine as of Feb. 11, have a US-based financial sponsor – an individual or entity – have received certain vaccines and met other public health requirements , and pass a series of background checks and security checks.

However, Ukrainians seeking entry at US ports of entry along the US-Mexico border will be denied entry without a valid visa or prior authorization to travel to the United States.

This last provision caught the attention of Gomez and Dorsonville.

“All persons seeking asylum at our borders must consistently be offered the same opportunities for protection as provided by U.S. and international law, consistent with their God-given dignity,” they said.

Another concern they had: “This new program does not include authorization for basic services or access to permanent legal status and could unnecessarily strain communities wishing to host. That’s why we and others have called for more robust use of the resettlement program, both for Ukrainians and other displaced people, which offers refugees the opportunity to integrate into American communities, temporarily or as American wannabes.

The two bishops said, “We call on the administration and Congress to work together to ensure that Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States are truly welcomed and given all the support that entails. And we ask that this same welcome be extended to those of other nationalities who have fled persecution, violence and disaster, including the passage of legislation that would offer our new Afghan neighbors a pathway to permanent legal status. .

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