With more than 4.9 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war, the Biden administration announced it will accept 100,000 people escaping the conflict into the U.S. At the same time, several immigrant rights advocates are calling out a double standard for Black and brown migrants at the Southern border compared with Ukrainian refugees.
NICOLE RAMOS: Shortly after the war broke out in Ukraine, we began to see many Ukrainian refugees arriving to the US-Mexico border, and the US government's response to those refugees was to open the door, as one should when people are fleeing a country and seeking protection.
- With more than 4 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war, the Biden administration says it will accept up to 100,000 refugees fleeing the conflict into the United States.
NICOLE RAMOS: That is very different than the treatment that has been received by largely Black and Brown refugees over the last two years, while the border has been closed to all asylum seekers due to a law known as Title 42, which is billed as a public health measure needed to keep the US public safe from rising levels of COVID in the world, but really functions to keep out asylum seekers that are Black and Brown.
The idea that we have to open the doors to Ukrainians because they are refugees fleeing war, but we should not open the door to asylum seekers, as they would call them, or migrants at the southern border, is a way that we use the violence of language to determine what humans are worth protecting and what humans are not worth protecting. There are many types of war that other refugees are fleeing, but those wars are not deemed worthy of being responded to.
We have thousands of families that are fleeing the southern state of Michoacán in Mexico, where the government is literally at war with the cartels. For our clients from Haiti, Haiti is experiencing one of the worst political crises of its history. Their president was assassinated last summer.
- Francel Celestin, along with his wife and three children, are among the thousands of Haitian refugees waiting for their asylum case to be processed in Tijuana.
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- Celestin says he decided to flee to the US after being targeted by the Haitian government for his involvement in an opposition party. He says he fears reprisals if he is forced to return home. Title 42, the Trump-era immigration policy enacted as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has caused a major backlog of asylum cases at the southern border. It's scheduled to be lifted by the end of May, but those who have already waited months for their cases to be processed aren't sure what to make of the priority being granted to Ukrainian refugees.
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NICOLE RAMOS: These are people that fall squarely within the protections provided by US asylum law, and yet, they are being denied the opportunity to access the legal process.