Officials Won’t Let Some Ukrainian and Russian Ship Crews Enter the U.S. Because They Might Try To Stay

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are Refusal to enterSome Ukrainian and Russian seafarers in American ports fear they may try to extend their visas, or stay on American soil after reaching the U.S.

Although the exact number of sailors who are denied entry to the country is not known, an official from government said that it was estimated at around 2,000. ConfirmedTo The Wall Street Journal These denials actually were happening. With the global shipping network only recently recovering from COVID-related supply chain issues, the port restrictions on Ukrainians and Russians could disrupt international trade—and punish people the U.S. should be protecting.

When seafarers arrive in America, they usually have a crew member visas, which “are nonimmigrant visas for persons working on board commercial sea vessels…in the United States, providing services required for normal operation and intending to depart the United States on the same vessel or any other vessel within 29 days.” According to The Wall Street JournalSome crew members RequestDue to the conflict in Ukraine, humanitarian protection is provided at U.S. ports. Port officials can turn away seafarers if they suspect they may have exceeded their visas.

U.S. immigration law is more important than the overstaying visa issue. AllowIf they feel threatened by persecution for their religion, race, country, political opinions, or membership of a specific social group, asylum can be sought. In order to be eligible for asylum, applicants need to physically appear on American soil and at the port of entry. Port officials may be concerned that seafarers are seeking asylum. Or, they might simply wish to keep them from exceeding their visas. Russians as well as Ukrainians can apply for asylum. It’s not illegal to do so, which is why it is troubling that some are being refused.

However, it’s not clear if whole crews will be prohibited from disembarking the ships. Or if restrictions are only for the Ukrainian or Russian sailors onboard ships. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) explained in a press release that “the average ship has a mix of at least three nationalities on board” and sometimes up to 30, meaning this is not as simple as keeping out “Russian ships” or “Ukrainian ships.”

Russia and Ukraine have created unique circumstances that require the U.S. government to open immigration channels to all nationals. Already, over 3,000,000 Ukrainians fled home after the Russian invasion. While Ukraine’s neighboring countries have been very accommodating to this refugee flow, the Biden administration is silent on America admitting migrants. Russian President Vladimir Putin has strict rules regarding dissenting opinions and expression. Russians protesting the war are at risk of abuse and imprisonment. Russians and Ukrainians seeking to escape from hostile conditions in their countries of origin should not be denied entry into the U.S.

The port restrictions also serve to weaken a significant portion of the international seafaring sector. Combining the Russian and Ukrainian sailors, 14.5 percentThousands of international shipping workers. Shipment facilitates almost 90 percent of international trade. Has been noted“Seafarers are at the forefront, responding to the pandemic by ensuring that essential supplies of food and fuel continue to arrive at their destination,” said the author.

Many sailors have been affected by the conflict in Ukraine, and both Ukrainian and Russian seamen are facing difficulties. CompensationBecause of the strain on Ukraine’s institutions and Russia’s harsh sanctions. Many are Stay stuckBecause they can’t return home, or get pay, these people are forced to stay at sea and in ports. By refusing port entry to Ukrainians and Russians, U.S. officials are further adding to these issues by preventing ships from switching out their crews and allowing them proper rest—not to mention the immigration implications.

A group of shipping companies stated that they have learned of some “field offices” prohibiting the disembarkation Russian or Ukrainian crew members despite valid U.S visas. Janet Yellen (Treasury Secretary) and Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary in a Letter obtained by The Wall Street Journal. “This creates confusion among these people and poses operational challenges to the shipping community.

Because Russians, Ukrainians make up such a large part of global trade’s motors, it is crucial that every component of this machine functions as designed. Also, it is crucial that U.S. ports officials permit Russian and Ukrainian seafarers legal immigration routes to seek American protection. This is the right time to accept vulnerable Russians as well as Ukrainians.