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​Arizona ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees if needed

Posted at 10:09 AM, Mar 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-06 12:09:58-05

PHOENIX — More than a million people, mostly women, and children have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded. It's creating a dire refugee emergency in Eastern Europe.

In Phoenix, the Ukrainian flag is raised outside the executive tower at the State Capitol. At night, Ukrainian's colors light up the dome. Signs of Arizona's support for a country and its people. 

"History tells me that anytime you have a civilian population under attack you're going to have a civilian population that is going to flee to find safe haven in another country," said Christine Corieri, senior Advisor to Governor Doug Ducey. 

If Arizona is asked to resettle Ukrainian refugees, Corieri will be one of the first to know about it.  There is no formal request to the United States to accept any Ukrainian citizens but if that day comes, Corieri says the state is ready to welcome them.

"Our state has historically been one of the most welcoming states in terms of the numbers we accept," Corieri said. "Governor Ducey has welcomed Afghan refugees and we're ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees as well."

The refugees are fleeing to Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. Thousands are arriving each day. The U.N. High Commission on refugees is on the ground. The start of what will be a lengthy process of interviews, background checks, and family ties.

"Do they have family here in the U.S. or maybe in Europe or some other country and they'll be forwarded to those countries, that's a process that typically takes 12-18 months," Corieri said.

But that can change literally overnight. All it takes is for the Biden administration to give Ukrainian refugees special status allowing them to seek asylum in the United States. The Federal Government did that for Afghan refugees. Establishing the Afghan Placement and Assistance Program to help get Afghan refugees out of Afghanistan quickly.

Ukrainians who are in the U.S. visiting families, going to school, working, or just here on a tourist visa may be able to seek asylum or extend their visas rather than return to a country at war.