(WASHINGTON) — U.S. refugee officers have been sent to Europe to help screen Ukrainian refugees who might want to come to the U.S. But American officials expect the vast majority will want to return to their homeland.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas also said that Customs and Border Protection agents along the U.S.-Mexico border have been instructed to allow Ukrainians to enter the country to seek asylum even as most people are turned back under a public health order instituted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 3 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. More than half have gone to Poland. Most of the rest are in the surrounding countries of Eastern Europe, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Mayorkas told reporters Thursday that U.S. refugee officers have been sent to the region to work with the U.N. and determine whether some Ukrainians may seek to come to the U.S. through the refugee program. But he and other administration officials are not expecting many will want to come.
“The vast majority of Ukrainians are displaced in the countries in that region, with the hope, understandably, of being able to return to their country,” the secretary said.