The refugee crisis created by Russia’s attack on Ukraine is intensifying, and the pressure is mounting for the United States to do more to help.

In recent weeks, policymakers, religious organizations and other groups have urged the Biden administration to welcome more Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. But so far, officials have focused on sending funds overseas.

“The administration has repeatedly signaled that Europe should be the primary destination for Ukrainians,” Reuters reported Wednesday in an explainer on recent events.

In many cases, refugees do prefer European destinations, as the Deseret News reported earlier this month. With the right travel documents, Ukrainians can travel relatively easily across the continent, staying with loved ones or coworkers as they wait for peace at home.

To come to the U.S., on the other hand, refugees must navigate a mountain of bureaucratic red tape. Biden administration officials have emphasized that fact to justify their current approach to Ukrainian refugees.

“Resettlement to the United States is not a quick process,” noted leaders from the U.S. State Department recently, according to Reuters.

A Polish soldier holds a baby as refugees fleeing war in neighboring Ukraine arrive at the Medyka crossing border, Poland, Thursday, March 10, 2022. | Daniel Cole, Associated Press

Even that description seems like an understatement, given that, for many refugees, the process takes years. However, as Reuters noted, U.S. officials can waive or speed up certain requirements in the midst of a crisis, as they did during the troop pullout from Afghanistan last year.

The Biden administration is reportedly weighing that fast-track option right now but, as of Thursday, had not put it in place. Their hesitancy helps explain why — as Reuters reported — only around 525 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the U.S. since the beginning of the year.

Those few hundred people represent less than 1% of the more than 3 million Ukrainians who have fled the country since Russia attacked. Poland has accepted nearly 2 million of these refugees; Slovakia, Hungry, Romania and Moldova have accepted hundreds of thousands of people, as well according to United Nations data.

Leaders from those countries are among the people calling on the U.S. to do more to help Ukrainian refugees. Many experts believe Poland, among other countries, doesn’t have the resources to continue bearing the brunt of the current refugee crisis.

“White House officials monitoring the refugee situation said they believe the crisis is still in its early stages, with the potential to dramatically expand in the coming weeks or months,” CNN reported. Associated costs could add up to $30 billion over the next 12 months, according to The New York Times.

Of the $13.6 billion that Congress set aside for Ukraine and its European allies in a spending bill passed this week, around $4 billion is designated as aid for refugees, Reuters reported.

The U.S. is also sharing human resources with other countries. Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, many American refugee resettlement experts have traveled overseas.

Within the U.S., refugee advocates are doing more than asking the Biden administration to accept more Ukrainians. They’re also calling for improvements to the resettlement process, which has been neglected in recent years.

“If we want to be able to take Ukrainians a year from now we need to rebuild” the refugee resettlement network now, said Matthew Soerens, U.S. director of church mobilization of World Relief, to the Deseret News earlier this month.

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President Joe Biden has said that the U.S. is prepared to welcome more refugees if the current Europe-focused plan falls short.

“We’re going to welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms if, in fact, they come all the way here,” he said during a March 11 meeting with Democratic policymakers, according to Reuters.