Why Spencer Cox supports Biden’s plan to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the United States


Utah Governor Spencer Cox said admitting refugees from Ukraine is ‘the right thing to do for our nation’ but also highlighted lessons learned from the ongoing resettlement of nearly 76,000 Afghans.

In an op-ed published in Fortune magazine, Cox outlined several steps other states should take in the wake of President Joe Biden’s Uniting for Ukraine initiative, which will streamline the resettlement process for up to 100,000 eligible refugees. .

Now, Ukrainians with a sponsor in the United States will be considered for humanitarian parole, which can last up to two years.

More than 5,000 Ukrainians entered the United States in March, according to US Customs and Border Protection data, with the majority having applied for humanitarian parole or asylum at the US-Mexico border before until Biden announces the program in late April.

“We have to be prepared. This means taking a hard look at our resettlement capabilities,” Cox wrote in Fortune. “We already face a steep learning curve in coordinating the arrival of 76,000 Afghans across America. As we strive to meet this challenge, we are laying the groundwork to welcome future refugees – not only from Ukraine, but from other war-torn countries around the world.

Governor Spencer Cox speaks during a press conference to announce a Driven to Assist community fundraiser and donation drive to benefit refugees fleeing Ukraine during a press conference at the Salt Lake City Capitol on March 3, 2022.

Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

What do Americans think?

Americans show broad support for admitting war refugees, with an estimated 5.5 million Ukrainians now displaced outside. A recent Gallup poll found that 78% of Americans approve of Biden’s plan to resettle 100,000 Ukrainians.

Those numbers are mirrored in Utah — at least 87% of Beehive State voters support resettling Ukrainian refugees, according to a Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

Cox said Utah should expect “as many (refugees) as possible” at its monthly press conference.

“If we can bring some light to the world, we should,” he told reporters, though he couldn’t say exactly when Ukrainians will be resettled in Utah through the resettlement program. Biden.

The crisis in Ukraine follows the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, which led to the chaotic evacuation of nearly 125,000 people. About 76,000 people were eventually resettled in the United States – more than 900 in Utah – which, like the situation in Ukraine, received broad approval from the American public.

An APM Research Lab poll found that 4 in 5 Americans favor supporting Afghans who have helped US troops, and an additional 68% said they were willing to donate to resettlement efforts.

What should states do?

In his op-ed, Cox argues that the strong public support behind the two resettlement efforts should motivate heads of state, and outlines successes and shortcomings in Utah’s efforts to admit Afghan refugees.

Create a Refugee Services Office

For 11 years, the Utah Office of Refugee Services operated under the Department of Manpower Services to assist refugees after their initial resettlement.

  • The office aims to help refugees find jobs and provides training for jobs in the health, pharmacy and construction sectors. Once the training is complete, the office will match a candidate with an employer.
  • The office also offers English and health services.

“By dedicating resources specifically to refugees, states send a strong message about the importance of providing a vital boost to our most vulnerable newcomers,” Cox writes.

A public-private partnership

It’s a common refrain from Utah politicians, and Cox says it’s an important step in the resettlement process — partnering with the private sector.

  • Cox used the Afghan Community Fund as an example, which, with the help of businesses, has raised more than $1 million in donations.

“We have seen so many other businesses and organizations in our state generously donating money and goods to help the resettlement process,” the Utah Governor wrote.

  • The private sector should also view resettlement efforts as a way to ease labor shortages, Cox said, pointing to studies that show refugees are “loyal workers” and a significant percentage of the workforce. – of essential work during the pandemic.

“Every state has businesses facing labor shortages,” he wrote. “Municipalities can act as an intermediary between refugees looking for work and companies in need or organize job fairs specifically for refugees.”

“We need volunteers”

Cox urged “ordinary citizens” to volunteer their time and help their new neighbors adjust to life in America.

“We now need volunteers who can teach English lessons, help families navigate their local services and decipher public transport maps,” he said. “…Invite your new neighbors to dinner. Help them plant spring gardens. Include them in community picnics or walking groups. »

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