Los Angeles County Supervisors voted unanimously, 5-0, to request County CEO Fesia Davenport’s office to rally services for Ukrainian refugees, should any resettle in the County during or after the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“As of last week, more than 2.5 million people, mostly women and children from Ukraine, have fled the country because of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s senseless war. Millions more have been displaced and will eventually seek refuge in neighboring countries,” Supervisor Hilda Solis, who drafted the motion, said during a hearing on Tuesday, March 16. “This Board remains in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and I support the President’s actions in regard to sanctions and applaud his decision to grant temporary protected status to Ukrainians who are currently here, which this Board requested thanks to the motion by Supervisor [Janice] Hahn. The President also said that the United States should welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms and I agree, as we have done time and time again.”
In her motion, Solis requested Davenport’s office “coordinate with the Department of Public Social Services, the Office of Immigrant Affairs, and other relevant County departments” to provide help and services to refugees from Ukraine — which could include cash aid, medical and mental health care, workforce development, and immigration legal assistance.
The motion also requests the estimated 26,000 LA County residents of Ukrainian descent be provided with information about services for themselves and their potential relatives in Ukraine.
Solis said the motion was modeled after humanitarian efforts from European countries.
“Many Ukrainian refugees have fled to neighboring countries and may want to remain in Europe in case there’s a chance to return to their home in the future,” Solis said. “And countries in the European Union are providing Ukrainian refugees with short term residency and other benefits such as work authorization. The United States should do the same: provide humanitarian parole visas to Ukrainians who have family members in the United States and want to reside here.” Solis said the motion was meant to prepare the County for such a move.
The decision came on the same day White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the issue during a press briefing. According to official White House transcripts, a reporter asked Psaki: “On the refugee crisis from Ukraine, is there any conversation about the role the U.S. could play to alleviate some of the burden felt by Poland? For example, either something similar to what we set up coming out of Afghanistan: airlifting people, expediting processing, especially for those who have family members in the U.S.?”
Psaki replied that the White House was “having ongoing, internal discussions about how we can play the most effective role in supporting the large number of refugees who are coming out of Ukraine.”
Psaki added that the President would welcome Ukrainians coming to the United States, but details were sparse.
“Obviously, they currently — they could apply through the refugee process, but we’re continuing to discuss what options may exist,” Psaki said.
On Tuesday, Solis cited recent U.S. efforts to resettle Afghan refugees.
Afghan refugees in the United States will be allowed to stay for at least 18 months under temporary protected status, the government said Wednesday, a move that will help some of the thousands who arrived following the chaotic American withdrawal from their country.
The Afghans must already be in the U.S. and pass a background check to qualify for the program, which is intended to help thousands who were evacuated to the U.S. under a short-term status known as humanitarian parole as their country fell to the Taliban.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.