Immigration Weekly Round-Up: Ukraine Added to TPS List; New Jerseyans Offer Support for People Fleeing Ukraine; “Fake Heiress” Joins Suit Against ICE for Failure to Provide COVID-19 Booster
Designation of Ukraine to Temporary Protected Status
On March 3, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that in light of “Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence,” Ukraine would be added to the list of countries for which citizens may be granted Temporary Protected Status in the United States. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that “Ukrainians [have been] forced to seek refuge in other countries. In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”
DHS indicated that Ukraine will be on the designated list for at least 18 months. People who are eligible for TPS under this new designation must have continuously resided in the United States prior to March 1, 2022, and that any individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022, would not be eligible for protection. Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of a forthcoming notice from the federal government, which will provide instructions on how to apply for TPS status and an Employment Authorization Document.
Anyone with questions about this new policy, including Ukrainian citizens who believe they are eligible for protection, should contact an immigration attorney for assistance.
New Jersey Volunteers Offer Aid to Ukrainian Refugees
The war in Ukraine has inspired humanitarian support from around the world as over a million individuals have fled Ukraine seeking refuge and help neighboring countries. Despite being thousands of miles away, New Jerseyans are working hard to assist those providing on-the-ground support.
The Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey, located in Whippany, will be holding a humanitarian aid drive to raise money and collect donations of food, clothing, baby care items, bedding, and medical equipment for those fleeing the country. Sikander Khan, Executive Director at Global Emergency Response and Assistance (“GERA”), a non-profit organization based in Paterson, NJ, is taking desperate calls from Ukrainians and their family members and is connecting them to immigration attorneys to provide further guidance. GERA has also partnered with the Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral in Clifton, NJ, to raise money to send directly to Europe for relief efforts.
Some New Jerseyans are taking their efforts a step further. Paul Kanitra, the mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, flew to Poland and plans to offer free transportation to refugees seeking assistance at the Poland-Ukraine border. Mayor Kanitra spoke of his decision as a “spur of the moment” decision after watching “this insane horror unfold.”
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against ICE Over COVID-19 Boosters
This week, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) filed a class action lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and DHS alleging that inmates contracted COVID-19 after several requests for a vaccine booster shot were denied.
One of the inmates listed on the class action suit is Anna Sorokin, a German citizen in immigration detention. Ms. Sorokin is the subject of the Netflix series, Inventing Anna, which delves into accusations that she spent years posing as a wealthy European heiress and scamming individuals and banking institutions. Her lawyers indicated that she tested positive in January for COVID-19 after her requests for a COVID-19 vaccine booster were ignored and continued to experience the effects of COVID-19 even after leaving quarantine. In the lawsuit, the ACLU alleges that ICE has not instituted or implemented any policy to administer booster shots, despite the CDC’s recommendation that booster shots be available for all eligible inmates.
A representative for ICE responded that their agency follows all CDC protocols related to COVID-19.