House and Senate Democrats, as well as refugee contractors, are urging President Joe Biden to quickly fast-track Ukrainians into the United States using the same tools the administration used to import over 85,000 Afghans since mid-August 2021.

On Thursday, Biden announced that he is planning to bring about 100,000 Ukrainian nationals to the U.S. amidst the Ukraine-Russia conflict. House and Senate Democrats, though are urging for an even wider opening of borders to quickly get as many Ukrainians to the U.S. as possible.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, authored a letter to Biden where he pleaded with the administration to “establish a robust humanitarian parole program” similar to the one used to bring tens of thousands of Afghans, some of whom were not adequately vetted, to the U.S. in a matter of months.

Markus Schreiber / Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a media conference, after an extraordinary NATO summit and Group of Seven meeting, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

“Given the global refugee crisis, and lessons learned from the Afghanistan evacuation, we need multiple legal pathways for Ukrainians to find safety in the United States,” Menendez wrote.

Likewise, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) wrote a letter to Biden weeks ago, asking that the administration “rapidly and significantly increase the number of refugees being resettled” by fast-tracking the process for Ukrainians.

Biden’s expansion of refugee resettlement to Ukrainians should come as welcome news for the refugee contractors who have a financial stake in bringing as many refugees to the U.S. as possible as they are tasked and funded by the State Department to facilitate the resettlement.

Executives with the Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service (LIRS), Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and World Relief told Politico that they had hoped the Biden administration would hugely expand refugee resettlement to the U.S. from Ukraine.

“The refugee program was created in 1980 to respond to emergency situations specifically so we wouldn’t have to use humanitarian parole anymore,” a HIAS executive complained. “It’s become such a slow-moving program, that it’s like an ambulance that moves at a glacial pace.”

Every five years, refugee resettlement costs taxpayers nearly $9 billion. Over the course of a lifetime, taxpayers pay about $133,000 per refugee and within five years of resettlement, roughly 16 percent will need taxpayer-funded housing assistance.

Over the last 20 years, nearly a million refugees have been resettled in the nation — more than double that of residents living in Miami, Florida, and it would be the equivalent of annually adding the population of Pensacola, Florida.

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