Biden Says No Troops to Ukraine, Is Silent on Ukrainian and Russian Refugees

Biden was right to reinforce that American soldiers shouldn't be fighting in Ukraine. But he missed a valuable opportunity to outline immigration measures for Ukrainians and Russians.


President Joe Biden opened his first State of the Union address on a relatively rare foreign policy note, as conflict raged across the world in Ukraine.

"Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways," Biden declared. "But he badly miscalculated."

After praising the resolve of Ukrainian citizens and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Biden outlined a series of measures intended to bolster the Ukrainian resistance and punish Russia for its brutal campaign. Key among them were mentions of NATO unity, plans for "a dedicated task force" that would "go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs," and the closure of American airspace to Russian flights. Sanctions took center stage, while immigration relief was nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully, Biden has opted to pursue measures beyond introducing American soldiers to the fight in Ukraine. "Let me be clear," Biden said. "Our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine." Given that politicians have been agitating for a U.S.-enforced "no-fly" zone over Ukraine in recent days, this is a critical reassurance. Biden seems to recognize that maintaining a "no-fly" zone would involve direct conflict with Russia. The consequences of such engagement—combat between two nuclear-armed superpowers—could be grave.

There was, however, ample talk of sanctions. As Reason's Christian Britschgi recently noted, "an inherent feature of this strategy is harming ordinary Russians who aren't responsible for their dictatorial government's war and who have few options for influencing its behavior." Russia's rich will likely remain rich, even as Russian citizens feel the heat. Large numbers of Russians have taken to the streets to demonstrate their disdain for Putin's war in Ukraine even so, faced with both shuttered international services and a regime that is arresting them for protesting.

Though Biden was quick to describe the benefits America conveys as a military presence in Eastern Europe—emphasizing the readiness of "American ground forces, aid squadrons, and ship deployments" to protect NATO countries like "Poland, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia"—he was less forthcoming about the benefits the U.S. can offer as a landing pad to Ukrainians hoping to flee their war-torn country and Russians looking for an escape from Putin's regime.

This would have been the perfect opportunity for Biden to announce immigration protections for Ukrainians—those already on American soil and those hoping to reach it. Immigration advocates have been pushing for a temporary protected status designation for Ukraine, which would prevent Ukrainian nationals from being deported back there. Biden's Department of Homeland Security could also implement special student relief for Ukrainians, a classification that would protect those who are studying in the U.S. on F-1 student visas. These two measures are simple additions to preexisting immigration infrastructure.

For all the harsh rhetoric against the Russian regime, Biden did not express a willingness to offer immigration relief to Russian citizens. The president spent a fair amount of time in his address outlining ways for America to stay competitive economically and technologically. "Brain drain" immigration measures—offering green cards to Russians with technical degrees, as well as those studying in American universities—could deprive Putin and the already-depopulating Russia of the individuals fueling the Russian economy.

Biden promised just over a year ago that "the United States [would] again lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example." Though he was adamant tonight that "a Russian dictator, invading a foreign country, has costs around the world," he was correct to note that those costs must not be enforced by American guns. That said, Biden's first State of the Union address could have laid out pragmatic immigration measures based in "the power of our example" that would offer refuge to the people of both Ukraine and Russia.

NEXT: Biden Praises Ukrainian 'Iron Will', Refuses To Use Ukrainian Iron in Infrastructure Projects

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  1. Go Get Him!

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  2. Fiona Harrigan once again proves she is a one-trick pony. There is literally no world problem that she presumes can't be solved by US open borders.

    1. Open borders is a tremendous idea when we're mandating $15 minimum wage. We're going to import all the cheap labor and drive up the costs of everything world-wide.

      1. Maybe we could just bring them here, give them all a raise to $15 and then send them home to make the same wage. I'm seeing an end to world hunger in this madness.

    2. Isn't the uninvited crossing of borders what's producing this new source of refugees?

      1. Russian troops are just emigrating to Kiev, what's the big deal?

    3. It was rather humorous for a while, now it's just tedious. She's in borderline need of an intervention before she inspires a Rain Man sequel.

    4. They’ve had an immigration Uber alles position just sitting opens since Shika left.

    5. Bring the entire world’s population here. Then I c an move to Europe. I could take the French Riviera. As it occurs to me that it would be very pleasant when bereft of French people.

  3. But if we waived requirements for Ukrainian refugees, we will soon be swimming in Russian saboteurs!

    Unlike those nice brown refugees, who just want a better life.

    1. Biden doesn't want people here who are on terrorist lists or something.

      1. Hell, these people dodge bombs while shooting Russians. These people would rock a school board meeting and likely hurt someone's feelings.

        1. They usually make good car salesmen too.

    2. I actually think they'd face a lot of backlash because it's hard to tell a Ukrainian from a Russian

  4. Sure, he said no to troops.
    But the more he/Psaki/Harris, the more I doubt it.
    Polling is basically 50/50 for support of doing world war III, and the bits of his speech I caught were classic war rallying rhetoric.
    He also implied that the US is going to assassinate Putin. Hopefully the constant slurring, sputtering, stumbling, and mixing up of words allow that to be denied or walked back quickly.
    We're in the middle of collapse.

  5. It makes sense from a purely humanitarian point of view, but how many places have we taken in refugees from actually been positively affected by that? Cuba is still totalitarian. Iran, ditto.

    Vietnam is an exception. But compare it to S. Korea, where we did intervene (and stayed)

  6. I don't think it's appropriate for Biden to talk about bringing Ukranian refugees to the United States at this point in the war. That would be like presumptuous to the point of admitting defeat--even as the Ukranian government and the Ukranian people continue to fight for their homeland. What Biden should do is urge the Russians to get out of the Ukraine. The people of the Ukraine presumably do not want to come to the United States. They want to go home, and their home is the Ukraine.

    The Ukranian army and the Ukranian people are fighting for their independence and their freedom and their homeland so that their families can come home--not so their families can emigrate to the United States. Don't sit around all day hoping for another international travesty so we can get more refugees in the United States. It is entirely possible to go overboard with anything, including refugees.

    Let's wait and see if the Ukrainians lose their country first, okay? Putin would probably be happy to chase the Ukranian people out of the Ukraine. We shouldn't help him. The areas of the two breakaway republics were largely depopulated by the Russian nationalists. Last I heard, the area under the pro-Russian breakaway provinces had chased more than a million Ukrainians out. The people left behind are mostly Russians. You don't want Biden to carry water for Putin's ethnic cleansing of the Ukraine, do you?

    1. Plus, Ukraine isn't allowing adult males to flee the country, since they are the militia reserves. Proving that even though you may think the government exists to defend you when things get bad, in actuality you exist to defend the government.

      1. Bingo

    2. "The Ukranian army and the Ukranian people are fighting for their independence and their freedom"

      And it's the forced service which proves they're fighting for independence and freedom.

      1. You actually have a mental handicap hey?

      2. It’s not the forced service, it’s the imprisonment of the opposition.

    3. You don't want Biden to carry water for Putin's ethnic cleansing of the Ukraine, do you?

      Oh, fuck off.

    4. Yep. Winner’s don’t show their hands. Should be silent on ALL details and options.

  7. The more the merrier!

  8. Biden i quiet because he is incompetent and has no clue what to do.

  9. That’s the ticket: invite large numbers of people from opposing sides of a war into the country.

    Those groups may hate each other, but for many decades to come, they will both lobby for massive military spending and foreign intervention, and that’sa a big win for politicians and the military industrial complex.

    Ok, and their occasional terrorist attacks will alls allow politicians to clamp down on civil liberties.

    Here is a better idea: no immigration at all from countries with active military or ethnic conflicts; we can grant refugee status to actual refugees in some situations, but only with the understanding that refugees must go back once the situation has improved in their homeland.

  10. The Europeans are falling over themselves to invite Ukrainians to their bosom, a club of failing democracies. Not a good idea in my opinion. Putin is right to say that that country is full of Neo-Nazis.

    Unless you're a Neo-Nazi of course, in which case it's a good idea.

  11. Ukraine or Iran? Biden doesn't seem to know the difference!

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