Following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s March 16 speech to Congress, more than 375 Jewish and other faith-based groups and organizations urged President Joe Biden to take immediate steps to welcome refugees from Ukraine. Jewish Federations of North America spearheaded the March 18 letter. Click here to view the PDF of the letter and see the full list of organizations that signed on.
Dear President Biden,
Thank you for your leadership in prioritizing humanitarian relief to support the people of Ukraine and granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainians currently in the United States. 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.
The American Jewish community represented by the 146 Jewish Federations and 300 independent communities, including thousands of affiliated agencies and faith partners, has a long refugee history, with many in our community of Ukrainian descent or with close relatives and friends who are directly affected. In addition to our shared values, this history drives our commitment to supporting communities in need and welcoming those fleeing persecution.
When you extended the Lautenberg Amendment, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, you provided a lifeline for refugees fleeing religious persecution with family ties in the United States. The Lautenberg program is particularly meaningful for the Jewish community as it has helped 400,000 Jews flee the Soviet regime for the safety of the United States. There are currently 17,000 cases representing a variety of faiths in the application pipeline and we urge your administration to permit these individuals to finish their processing in the United States so they can escape the humanitarian crisis and reunite with their families in safety.
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. 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 network of social service agencies, houses of worship, and community centers has been supporting refugees for over a century—beginning with Eastern European Jews fleeing the pogroms, and today those seeking refuge in the U.S. from across the globe. 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.
During this time of crisis, we urge you to take these steps to reunite families without delay. Thank you for your consideration.