Ukrainians Detained at Border Despite Biden's 'Open Arms' Promise, Psaki Blames the War Refugees Themselves
Unlike the United States’ southern border, where the Biden administration claims it is enforcing the law as record numbers of illegal immigrants enter the country with impunity, a new report states that Ukrainian refugees trying to enter the U.S. are being warehoused because they didn’t fill out their paperwork properly as they fled death.
Ukrainian refugees, “have to apply through the existing programs,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki lectured Friday, according to a White House transcript of her briefing.
The question was raised at the briefing due to a report by Newsweek Friday that refugees were being shunted to detention centers operated by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The report quoted President Joe Biden as saying Ukrainian refugees should be welcomed “with open arms.”
About 3.3 million Ukrainians have left the country since the Russian invasion, according to The Associated Press.
‘[N]ow we’re seeing Ukrainians fleeing an active invasion going to ICE detention. Biden said they’d be welcomed with open arms. That’s not happening,” immigration attorney Jennifer Scarborough told Newsweek.
“The fact that people from Ukraine have family here, friends here they can connect with, and they’re not allowing them to enter the U.S. is hugely problematic,” Scarborough said.
“Unless [the Biden administration] changes their policies, we expect the number of detentions to increase,” she said.
Kristen Walker of NBC asked Psaki about that apparent contradiction.
“I want to follow up with you on something we’ve been discussing throughout the week: The issue of refugees. Newsweek has reported that the U.S. is actually detaining Ukrainian refugees in the ICE detention centers — those who are seeking entry into the country — which seems like a contradiction of President Biden saying that he would welcome them here. Can you tell us why this is happening and what’s being done?” she said.
Jen Psaki says Ukrainian refugees are stuck at the border because they need to file PAPERWORK: Charity sets up website for Americans to host families https://t.co/pJGnhdFCbJ
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 19, 2022
“I can’t confirm any specific cases. I’d point you to the Department of Homeland Security. But what I would say is that we are still implementing our immigration laws at the border,” Psaki said,
“That means that Title 42 is in place,” she said, referring to a policy that allows immigrants to be expelled due to the coronavirus. On March 11, the CDC eased the policy as it applies to unaccompanied minors, according to The Associated Press.
In its reporting, Newsweek noted that European nations that had similar policies in place have waived them for Ukrainian refugees.
Psaki said Ukraine refugees would have to go through the process.
“And for individuals who come through, you know, abnormal migration, we approach that through the same laws and implementation,” she said. “When the president says he would welcome refugees, of course he would, but they have to apply through the refugee programs.”
Why is Jen Psaki saying that refugees must apply through the formal refugee process?
Asking for people who remember when the orange man was very bad and very racist and very xenophobic for wanting people to come to our country legally. pic.twitter.com/Lx8rKWJH18
— Meara (@MillennialOther) March 18, 2022
Walker didn’t quite buy it.
“But do you acknowledge, Jen, that detaining them is a contradiction to President Biden saying he would welcome them with open arms?” she said.
Psaki suggested that, for potential immigrants from Ukraine, the paperwork remained paramount.
“Well, again, Kristen, we implement and we — our immigration laws across the board, no matter what country you come from. And that has been our case and approach from the beginning. Welcoming refugees means applying through the refugee process,” she said.
Jen Psaki says Ukrainian refugees are stuck because they must file paperwork
@PressSec how come illegals from Central America are allowed straight in without paperwork ? @jrpsaki @CNN https://t.co/A5SMVGpwUQ
— Rick DC (@RDCarter2) March 19, 2022
Asked whether it was a priority to help refugees find new homes other than detention centers, Psaki insisted again that, “we are continuing to apply our immigration laws at the border.”
“And so, refugees who want to come to the United States — of course we would welcome Ukrainian refugees. That is why — but they have to apply through the existing programs. There’s an ongoing discussion about what programs or what steps we could take. And we certainly — that’s an important conversation and process internally,” she said.
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