The Biden administration has quietly resumed deportations to Russia, an apparent reversal of the position adopted after Russia invaded Ukraine just over a year ago, when such removals were suspended, the Guardian has learned.
Immigration advocates were taken by surprise when a young Russian man, who came to the US fleeing Vladimir Putin’s efforts to mobilize citizens to fight in Ukraine, was abruptly deported at the weekend from the US back to Russia.
He was among several Russian asylum seekers, many of whom have made their way to the US in the last year, who are now terrified the US government will return them to Russia where they could face prison or be sent rapidly to the frontline, where Russia has seen tens of thousands of casualties.
“US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) remains committed to enforcing immigration laws humanely, effectively and with professionalism. Ice facilitates the transfer and removal of non-citizens via commercial airlines and chartered flights in support of mission requirements,” the federal agency said this week, adding: “Ice conducts removals to countries, including Russia, in accordance with country removal guidelines.”
News of resumed deportations to Russia came just over a year after reports that the Biden administration had suspended deportation flights to Russia, Ukraine and seven other countries in Europe during Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It is unclear when deportations to Russia resumed. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Migrants from Russia came to the US thinking they could seek asylum and be protected from deportation because of the stated government position. Now the apparent change in policy has caused confusion for migrants and their advocates who are left with little time to plan.
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