The purpose of this occasion is to help all the people who know someone from Ukraine, if you have a family member, a friend, or a relative, and you’re wondering what you can do to help them.
This is why we’re here to talk about people who are still stuck in Ukraine, for people who have fled and they’re maybe in Poland, or Romania, maybe they’re seeking asylum at the border, or they’re already in the United States.
Wherever they are if they’re trying to come to the United States, some different current policies and rules are applying to people.
The big news that we had last week was that our law firm was involved in a case that most people already heard about because it was all over the news last week, it was one good news story coming out of the war in Ukraine which is a tragedy, just such an awful horrific thing that is happening and all of us are blasted with upsetting news, so this one good thing happened and everybody was talking about.
We had the honor of being involved in the case of the twin babies who were evacuated from Kyiv, Ukraine.
The story of that case is that we were tagged in a Facebook post where a friend of the family said: I need some help from my friends who had twin babies, born early via surrogate in Ukraine, and they’re at a hospital in Kyiv, and we need help, these are U.S. citizens, American babies, we need to get them out of the country, get them safely out of Ukraine and work on getting them their U.S. citizenship.
Lots of you know our attorney Kate serves on the board of VECINA, and this is an organization that she helped found with Lindsey Gray who is the CEO of the organization, essentially what VECINA does is legal services for immigrants in crisis.
We’ve worked on border cases, we’ve worked on Afghanistan cases, we’ve worked on kids in detention, and just it’s like wherever the emergency is, VECINA gets involved, is typically the way that works, and so because VECINA has been doing work in Afghanistan we knew that Lindsay would have some good contacts in the Department of State.
Lindsay and attorney Kate began to put the council on the case, and were able to get the family connected to project Dynamo, which is the true hero, in this case, they actually got all the supplies they needed for these babies, the travel incubators, the right food, the ambulance, the neonatologist.
They gathered all these things, it was a global effort, there were people involved all over the world and they went, got those babies, and drove them to Poland last month.
Is an amazing outcome because the babies are fine, the babies are healthy, and they’re doing great. It’s been amazing.
Kate’s Role In Helping Them Out
Our immigration attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch was the connecting point for this American family to get the kind of help they needed for their babies.
The hope in this situation was that these people who helped around the world, have it handled, and these parents had to decide for these babies that are not ready to travel, needed to move sooner than they would, travel to get them out of a war zone, and they did and it all turned out.
Essentially for the evacuation, our involvement was making connections, we were able to help get them connected to the people who actually accomplished the heroic mission of the evacuation, we were sitting in our houses the day of the evacuation and it was hours long, it was like 10 hours and we were trying to focus on work stuff but it was really difficult.
We kept thinking about the parents, they’ve been so amazingly strong but anyway these babies are an immigration case too because the babies are born via surrogate and can acquire U.S. citizenship, this is maybe relevant to the topic, and handling if anybody knows a family with babies who are in the adoption process, or they’re born via surrogate, or they’re born to U.S. citizen parents but are born abroad in Ukraine and they are U.S citizens.
There are very different procedures for each type of case but there’s a whole body of law.
The Most Difficult Part Of The Rescue Mission
From our perspective, it was the fragility of the babies that was the most difficult part, there were these two twins, Lenny and Moisha, they’re boys, they were born at 32 weeks, they were on incubators and they were on feeding tubes.
Then, there was another baby girl Sophia, who’s even smaller, even more fragile, she’s British, and so Project Dynamo was going in to get Lenny and Moisha, and baby Sophia from another hospital because they were in two different hospitals in Kyiv.
They had to find all of the supplies that they needed, like the little incubators, the exact right food, get the medical professionals who are willing to go on this extremely dangerous mission, drive these ambulances into these hospitals, get the babies and drive hours through Ukraine into Poland.
Project Dynamo said that this is the most complex mission they have ever done because of the fragility of these babies, but Lydia and Moisha, they were able to get out of the NICU the day after they arrived in Poland.
Why Did TPS For Ukraine Happened So Quickly But Took A Long Time For Others?
We all suspect why we haven’t seen the same quick action for Afghans, Central Americans, and Haitians, as we have seen for people from Ukraine.
Maybe it’s political solidarity, maybe it’s racial solidarity, we don’t want to use this word solidarity, maybe it’s race-based motivation which is awful, it’s not something that feels okay, and it bothers as it should bother all of us, that Central American asylum seekers who have been fleeing legitimate war in their country, maybe it’s not Russian invasion but gangs, and their governments are battling for control of these nations, and there are casualties in their children.
At Lincoln-Goldfinch Law we think that we as a nation have completely failed to take care of our neighboring, the refugees from Central America who are fleeing legitimate violence, and the Trump administration implemented policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), title 42, COVID security closure of the border completely, that Biden has not successfully reversed yet.
Is such a disappointment of this administration, and we say that publicly, it is not okay the way that we have failed to take care of immigrants in crisis from the Southern border.
We had a case in Time Magazine last year of a single mother from El Salvador and her eight-year-old daughter who tried to seek asylum, and they were turned away, they were kidnapped and the daughter escaped, she made it over, because only kids were allowed over, not families, not parents.
She was in detention and chickenpox quarantined for weeks thinking her mother had died because of the violence of the kidnapping, and that never would have happened if we didn’t have Title 42 in place.
What’s most useful is to say: okay, maybe the administration, some of the American public are motivated to be more generous with our immigration humanitarian policies because of what is happening in Ukraine, and we should take care of people from Ukraine who are seeking asylum, just as we should take care of people from Afghanistan, just as we should take care of people from Honduras, but if the crisis in the war in Ukraine is what finally moves the needle and gets the policies back to where they should be in terms of asylum seekers, then that is a blessing, that’s a good thing and we hope that’s what we see.
This week our attorney Kate was complaining that we had TPS for Ukraine announced quickly, but we didn’t have TPS for Afghanistan yet, how does that reconcile?
Then today or yesterday TPS for Afghanistan was announced, and we don’t know why it was announced, maybe it was because it was like Hey, oh, this is a match, and so if that’s what got TPS for Afghanistan accomplished, then good, should have been.
What’s useful in these moments from our perspective is to focus on what can be done, and what can be accomplished to get us back to who we are as a country.
Why do we do asylum at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law? We do asylum because we failed, we were part of the international failure to protect Jewish refugees in the holocaust, we turn them back to their death and after that, we changed, we said we’re not going to do that again, we have a responsibility as a nation to protect people who are fleeing persecution, we signed international treaties and we put asylum into our own laws and policies, and we’ve had it in place for 70 years.
During the Trump administration all that just got chucked over the balcony, and it takes a lot of work and effort to get us back to where we were, and we haven’t seen that happen, so now if we’re going to get that done and Ukraine is the motivator for that, then we’re glad that we’re getting there, we’re obviously not glad about what’s happening in Ukraine but we’re glad to see that maybe our nation is finally getting back to the values that most of us believe in and stand for.
Why Immigration Is Important?
One of the reasons that immigration is so important other than we are aging, we need labor immigrants on a much bigger percentage, start businesses and create jobs in the United States, and they’re a benefit to our economy but if you think about the things as you live your life, the things that you do to make plans, to start a business, to hire an employee, to buy a house, to get married, to have children, to do all of the things that establish a secure and permanent life in a place, most people aren’t going to do those things unless they have more security in their status.
We’re bringing all these amazing people over who have so much potential, and it’s almost like they’re trying to run and we’re holding onto their shirts, it’s so bad for all of us, and one of the true things is that the vast majority of Americans do believe in immigration, and many people may not understand the system and what that means, they may say things to get in line and they may not understand how bad our system is in terms of not supporting the needs of our nation and our economy.
Immigration isn’t the divisive topic that the media and politicians like Greg Abbott, Ken Pax, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, that is all rhetoric and it doesn’t reflect what all of us Americans including immigrants, the people who live in this country, what we believe actually is pretty much in alignment.
We’ve got always from the divisiveness that isn’t real, it doesn’t support what we really want, and we hope we’re getting much broader than Ukraine but we hope that we get all that noise out of this fear, and actually get some real reform achieved soon because this is just it’s not working what we’ve been doing.
Can Ukrainians Request Asylum? & The Failure That Is MPP
No, they cannot, and this again is one of those things where this might be the thing that changes the policy.
During the Trump administration, Title 42 was implemented. Title 42 says: we don’t battle out any asylum speakers because of Covid, and obviously, that was pre-Covid test availability, now it just doesn’t make any sense to have a rule like that but the policy is still in place.
The only people it doesn’t apply to are children who are alone, which is a whole other problematic issue.
Ukrainian asylum seekers who arrive at the border are being turned away just like all other asylum seekers, and it’s a travesty, it’s not okay, it needs to change.
It’s really bad for immigrants in Mexico, the cartels just very regularly kidnap immigrants in Mexico, and it’s really dangerous.
People who’re considering flying into South or Central America, traveling up and coming to the border, don’t do that, it’s very dangerous right now for any migrant and any asylum seeker.
In the VECINA program, they recently did a report that says that 50 percent of the immigrants that we had helped have been subject to kidnapping or attempted kidnapping, it is that regular, so it’s not a good idea for Ukrainian asylum seekers to come to the border and ask for asylum at this moment until things settle out in Mexico.
The truth is that Ukrainians that don’t already have a way to have a Visa to come to the United States can’t right now, absent some sort of total medical emergency, let’s say somebody is in Warsaw, Poland, they don’t have a Visa, they’re Ukrainian and they have a life-changing surgery that can only be done in the United States, there might be an emergency Visa for some but it has to be that extreme.
Otherwise, they can’t come and seek asylum, you can’t come to the border and seek asylum, you can petition for parents to get a Green Card but that process is going to take a year.
Our message to people in the United States who have loved ones from Ukraine who want to get to the United States but they don’t already have a Visa, should focus on getting them comfortable and safe where they are, get them a nice apartment, get them plenty of food for groceries, get them settled and safe because it’s gonna be a while.
There’s no way to immediately bring over people from Ukraine, the family petitions already were taking at least a year and now imagine how overwhelmed the embassy officials are.
That’s not the answer that most people want to hear but that’s the reality, what you need to do is get them safe and comfortable where they are.
There are ways to do Visa applications, family petitions, Employment Visa options for someone who is a highly skilled or talented person, they’re going to be employed by a U.S company, and that’s just regular old immigration that we discuss with people.
Right now there are so many wheels spinning for people who are like: My mom is a refugee in Romania, what the heck can I do? Give her everything she needs to live safely in Romania at least for a little while, and then give us a call and we’ll discuss immigration options, but everybody needs to understand that it’s not going to be immediate, unfortunately.
If you have additional questions the situation in Ukraine, the TPS, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a short 10 minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you won’t miss our weekly broadcasts via Facebook, YouTube & Twitch.