JFNA, coalition of organizations, urging Biden to expedite Ukrainian refugee efforts

“The United States has a moral responsibility to open its doors to refugees and remove all unnecessary bureaucracy so that we can ease their pain and help them rebuild their lives.”

 Refugees at the Suceava train station prepare to board a train that will take them to their next destination inside Romania on March 15, 2022. (photo credit: MAYA MARGIT/THE MEDIA LINE)
Refugees at the Suceava train station prepare to board a train that will take them to their next destination inside Romania on March 15, 2022.
(photo credit: MAYA MARGIT/THE MEDIA LINE)

WASHINGTON – The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA),  together with dozens of major organizations and hundreds of local faith groups, have sent a letter to US President Joe Biden, urging him to admit Ukrainians with pending immigrant visa petitions as refugees.

Among the organizations that signed the letter were the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Agudath Israel of America, B’nai B’rith International and Hadassah.

The organizations thanked Biden for prioritizing humanitarian relief to support Ukrainians and granting temporary protected status to Ukrainians currently in the US.

“Given the continuing humanitarian emergency and new estimates for Ukrainian refugees reaching three million, the Jewish community and our faith partners across the United States urge you to take immediate steps to help Ukrainian civilians, including by expediting the resettlement of Ukrainians who are already in process to come to the United States thanks to their close family ties here,” they wrote.

“The American Jewish community... has a long refugee history, with many in our community of Ukrainian descent or with close relatives and friends who are directly affected,” the letter said. “In addition to our shared values, this history drives our commitment to supporting communities in need and welcoming those fleeing persecution.”

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden at the White House this week – tough decision to make.  (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS) US PRESIDENT Joe Biden at the White House this week – tough decision to make. (credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

“We also ask that you admit Ukrainians with pending immigrant visa petitions as refugees, as has been done in the past for Iraqis and Haitians during crises in their communities,” it said. “This step will allow these Ukrainians to reunite with their families in the United States rather than waiting for months, or even longer, overseas. We understand that any expedited processing should follow the appropriate vetting and security protocols.

“Our community stands ready to partner with your administration and work together, with our faith partners, to welcome and support these refugees arriving in the United States.”

“As a refugee who fled Ukraine as a young child, I have a deep understanding of the pain that today’s refugees are experiencing,” JFNA senior vice president for public affairs Elana Broitman said. “I am grateful and proud to be in the position years later to lead advocacy efforts to ensure that the refugees of today will receive support, as my family received over 40 years ago.”

JFNA president and CEO Eric Fingerhut said this is a critical time for the US as three million refugees are fleeing Ukraine.

“The United States has a moral responsibility to open its doors to refugees and remove all unnecessary bureaucracy so that we can ease their pain and help them rebuild their lives,” he said in a statement. “So many members of the Jewish community have been refugees in this country, and that is why I am so proud that the Jewish community is now leading these efforts.”