The Soapbox: US prioritizes European refugees

The Soapbox is a weekly column by WSN’s news desk examining the major developments in world news and rounding up the stories we think are worth the read this week. Global consciousness for a global university.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

The Soapbox is a weekly news column rounding up stories worth reading for a global university. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Kristian Burt, News Editor

Ukrainian refugees welcomed with open arms by US

The United States is preparing to take in up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and donate more than $1 billion to help European countries respond to the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24, more than three million Ukrainian refugees have fled the country.

“We reaffirm our deep support for the Ukrainian people, who are suffering from Russia’s devastating bombing of civilians and civilian infrastructure,” President Joe Biden and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen wrote in a statement. “We continue to mobilize humanitarian relief to support people within Ukraine and those who have been forced to flee.”

Most Ukrainian refugees will not be included in the United States’ annual maximum of 125,000 permitted refugees unless they enter through the country’s refugee program, leaving room for more refugees from other countries to enter. However, refugees will not come into the country all at once. Instead, some will be forced to wait until the end of the fiscal year in September 2022.

Since the start of the Russian invasion, more than 150 Ukrainian refugees have filed humanitarian parole requests to the United States, allowing them to stay in the country even during times of urgent crisis.

Colombian refugees deported over new Title 42 campaign

The United States has begun an operation this month to deport Colombian refugees and asylum seekers under Title 42, which allows for the immediate deportation of refugees if there is a public health concern. The campaign was launched by the Biden administration and has already been used to deport hundreds of Colombian migrants, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Title 42 was first enacted in 1944 as a means to block citizens of any particular country from entering the United States if they may spread a communicable disease that poses a potential health risk. 

In March 2020, former president Donald Trump enacted an interpretation of Title 42 that allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to block and remove any refugees to prevent further spread of COVID-19. 

The CDC is preparing to review Title 42 on March 30 to determine whether the Trump-era policy should be lifted. The Biden administration has invoked Title 42 more than one million times since the beginning of Biden’s presidency, expediting the process to deport migrants.

Following discussions with the Government of Colombia, in March 2022, DHS began repatriating Colombian nationals to Colombia pursuant to CDC’s Title 42 public health order,” a DHS statement provided to CBS News read.

Many advocacy organizations and asylum seekers are calling for the Title 42 expulsion program to be dissolved. A federal court ruled on March 4 that Title 42 cannot remove asylum seekers if deportation may lead to torture or persecution of any kind. A coalition of 87 advocacy groups wrote a letter to Biden on March 23 calling on the United States to end all uses of Title 42 in relation to COVID-19. 

US continues Haitian deportations despite dangers

Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit reporting on international human rights abuses, released a report on March 24 calling for the United States to stop the repatriation of Haitian refugees. The organization cited the dangers associated with Haitian deportation, such as boats carrying refugees capsizing.

The United States and other nations, including Cuba, have deported more than 27,000 Haitians as of March 12, with over 1,000 being returned to Haiti the week of March 6 alone. Over 80% of all Haitian deportations come from the United States, with more than 20,300 Haitians having been deported from Jan. 1, 2021, to Feb. 26, 2022. More than two-thirds of Haitian repatriation cases have been justified under Title 42.

“It is unconscionable that any government would send people to Haiti while it experiences such a deterioration in security and a heightened risk to everyone’s life and physical integrity,” César Muñoz, a Human Rights Watch researcher, said. “The United States, which accounts for the vast majority of returns, should end the unnecessary and illegitimate use of a public health regulation for abusive expulsions of Haitians.”

The massive influx of Haitian migrants began after former president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7, 2021. Shortly after, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake wracked the country on Aug. 14. Since then, tens of thousands have fled the country seeking refuge.

Many migrants take ill-equipped boats through the dangerous waters off Florida’s southern coast, where boats can easily capsize. A wooden boat carrying more than 300 Haitian migrants capsized off the coast of Florida on March 7, leaving many in need of medical attention. Around 200 migrants were deported back to Haiti on March 22 after the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted a boat off the northern coast of the island nation.

Contact Kristian Burt at [email protected].