With nearly 4 million refugees flooding out of Ukraine because of war, the Biden Administration said the U.S. will open its arms to about 100,000 refugees from that country.
At the same time, some immigration rights advocates are wondering why Ukrainians are being let into the country while Title 42, a pandemic-era rule to prevent the spread of COVID, has kept thousands of Haitian and Latin American refugees from crossing over the last two years.
“There very much is a double standard and preference. At the moment there are asylum seekers from Ukraine able to present themselves at the port of entry and allowed to have their claim heard in the United States while there have been migrants waiting for two years while Title 42 has been implemented,” said immigration attorney Dulce Garcia, Executive Director of Border Angels.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
Guerline Jozef, Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said all people in need of refuge should be able to find it in the United States, regardless of their homeland.
But both Jozef and Garcia say they've noticed a double standard in migrant treatment, especially with Title 42 in effect.
“We see clearly the welcoming with dignity of people of European descent versus Brown and Black people at the border," Jozef said.
Jozef pointed to a video of President Joe Biden in Poland telling interpreters, “Tell her I want to take her home," while he held a young Ukrainian refugee. That interaction, Jozef says, highlights the double standard.
“Holding that little beautiful girl with compassion, that's the picture we want to see. But on the other side of our border, remember that we have little Black girls and boys at the president’s doorstep and he’s pushing them back and deporting them," Jozef said.
The Biden Administration is expected to end Title 42 in May.
In the meantime, Garcia says the thousands of asylum-seeking clients she's helped for years continue to wait their turn in Mexico as Ukrainian refugees who've just arrived are granted safe passage.
“We don’t have answers for these migrants except the United States has consistently preferred a type of migrant over the other," Garcia said.
In a statement regarding the double standard concerns, the Department of Homeland Security issued this statement:
"The CDC’s Title 42 public health order remains in place with respect to single adults and family units, and the Department of Homeland Security continues to operate in accordance with that Order to the greatest extent possible. Consistent with the CDC Order, DHS continues to grant Title 42 exceptions to particularly vulnerable individuals of all nationalities for humanitarian reasons. All exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis."