On Tuesday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) argued in favor of accepting Ukrainian refugees in the United States, emphasizing that asylum seekers from other parts of the world should be treated with similar respect.
Speaking to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address, Ocasio-Cortez made the case for giving Ukrainian refugees Temporary Protection Status (TPS), saying that the Biden White House should make it easier for individuals with that status to eventually become citizens.
“Now that we know a huge, new migration is going to start because of that war, do you have caution or words of advice … in terms of how to be smarter about those politics, about the inevitable demonization of those victimized people?” Maddow asked the New York congresswoman.
“The world is watching, and many immigrants and refugees are watching,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “How the world treats Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees should be how we are treating all refugees in the United States, especially when you look at such stark juxtapositions where so many of the factors are in common.”
Citing the Syrian refugee crisis, Ocasio-Cortez said that “the way the world treated Syrian refugees versus the way the world is greeting Ukrainian refugees is a very stark contrast.” She also condemned U.S. policy toward asylum seekers from Central America and Haiti under Biden and past administrations.
“We really need to make sure that, when we talk about accepting refugees, that we are meaning it, for everybody, no matter where you come from,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez also said that the current crisis presents “an opportunity” to make things better for all future asylum seekers coming to the U.S. Ukrainian refugees should receive TPS status, she said — and Congress and the president should make it easier for individuals who receive TPS status to become citizens, if they want to do so. This should apply not only to Ukrainians but also to other asylum seekers, she went on.
Journalist Juan Escalante, who was once himself an undocumented immigrant, said that Ocasio-Cortez “is 100% correct.”
The crisis in Ukraine could “push Biden to grant #TPS to Ukrainians in the United States,” as well as “push Congress to deliver a path to citizenship for all TPS recipients — including Venezuela, Haiti, Honduras, etc.,” Escalante said.
Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will undoubtedly result in a refugee crisis. According to estimates from the United Nations, as of Tuesday, more than 874,000 Ukrainians have already fled the country, crossing their country’s border into neighboring areas.