United States should adopt European Union’s response to Ukrainian refugee crisis


Midway Staff

As more Ukrainians flee their country, it is time for the United States government to rethink its outmoded and overly strict immigration policy.

Kiran Collins, Reporter

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February, over 4,400,000 Ukrainians have fled their country. In attempts to support these refugees, the European Union has updated its refugee policies, while the United States is relying on past systems. In order to properly support the Ukrainian refugees, the United States should follow in the footsteps of the EU and update their refugee policies in accordance with the EU’s new approach.

One area in which the United States should follow the EU is through refugee caps. Though some might say that the US cannot handle any more refugees, it would be possible — Poland being a strong example. As of April 14, 2,694,090 refugees have entered Poland alone — though Polish authorities estimate that less than half stayed. Still, even if only 1 million refugees stayed in Poland, that would be a 2.64% increase in population in just a few weeks. In comparison, if all 100,000 refugees the United States is currently allowing came into the country, there would still be only a 0.03% increase in population, which would be more manageable.

Another area of the EU’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis that the United States should adopt is their new guidelines on how border control with Ukraine should work. With few direct paths into the United States, many of those who want to enter have gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border, forming a large backlog. In an interview with NPR, Olya Krasnykh, a volunteer at a temporary refugee shelter outside Tijuana, estimated they had taken in around 10,000 refugees. 

In order to properly support the Ukrainian refugees, the United States should follow in the footsteps of the EU and update their refugee policies in accordance with the EU’s new approach.”

— Kiran Collins

“We’re at a breaking point where we need more help,” said Krasnykh.

One EU border control policy that can be applied here is that border control officers should be able to relax or postpone checks for the most vulnerable travelers. The elderly or the injured, who need to find relief in the country as soon as possible, would be able to receive their border checks after receiving the help they need. The EU also established a policy of allowing border guards to authorize refugees even without all the proper documents, which, if used in America, would also help to speed up the backlog on the border. 

Finally, the United States should install a Temporary Protection Directive. This directive gives Ukrainian refugees the immediate right to live, work and seek health care in EU member states for up to three years. Currently, the United States refugee entry system requires prospective refugees or asylum seekers to undergo numerous interviews, medical exams and background checks, which is a process that can last years. If a similar directive to the EU was implemented, refugees would be granted a protected status far sooner, and the process would be significantly quicker. 

The United States adopting these policies would not solve all the problems. Still, raising refugee caps, relaxing border control and simplifying the refugee entry system would go a long way in giving those who want to enter the country an easier way to do so.