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Washington seeks answers amid reports of Africans being mistreated at Ukraine’s borders

EXCLUSIVE: From the White House to the halls of Congress, the U.S. government says it’s doing its part in aiding Black migrants during the Russian invasion.

The international community is searching for more information on the reported mistreatment of African migrants trying to flee Ukraine as Russia continues to drop bombs on the eastern European country in an invasion that has stunned the world.

Ukrainian refugees come in Przemysl, Poland, on March 1, 2022. (Photo by Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Here in the United States, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York is planning to travel to Poland, one of the Ukrainian border countries, to move the ball forward for the Black migrants who are being pushed to the back of the line for train rides and other ways out of the country.

“I’m going to Poland shortly myself, so I can address this issue, find out…what’s going on there and fixing it and holding those accountable if our folks are being held back and discriminated against,” Meeks told theGrio

Meeks feels a sense of duty as a Black man in his powerful position to see why it is taking African migrants in Ukraine longer to get out of the country than others who are white.  

“I think I have the job as the first African American to chair the [House] Foreign Affairs Committee to go directly myself. I just was in the continent of Africa last week. And so I want to make sure that those who have been living there for a period of time and those who have recently immigrated there from the continent [are safe]…it’s my job,” he added.

Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., speaks during the America Competes Act event in the Rayburn Room in the Capitol on Friday, February 4, 2022. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images).

African migrants and students are being put in the back of the line when trying to leave the war-torn Ukraine that is being slowly seized by Russian rule.

The visuals of Africans being mistreated in Europe also caught the attention of the White House. Biden senior officials are said to be compiling anecdotal evidence to help.

There’s also been a response on the international level, as the United Nations Refugee Agency on Wednesday urged countries that neighbor Ukraine to open their borders to Africans fleeing the conflict, according to Reuters.

U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee of Texas told theGrio that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is also pushing the White House for more answers. The U.S. Department of State is said to be looking into the matter. 

“We’re all going to be working together and pushing the administration to make sure that all freedom lovers, all supporters of democracy, all people fleeing this terrorist looting that they can all get out and get out fairly,” said Jackson Lee.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“We just need a fair human rights response to all those who live in Ukraine. And these individuals may not be citizens, but we must treat them with basic international human rights…they must be given the opportunity to flee, to seek refugee status and to be protected as they escape. 

Congresswoman Jackson Lee said she is “confident” the United States government will be able to help resolve the issue. 

“I think we need to recognize the crisis that is going on. The United States is in constant contact with Chairman Meeks. I think we have a way forward to help these Africans, and I’m glad it was brought to the international families’ attention,” she said.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Ukrainians in the United States following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. TPS is a temporary, renewable program that provides relief from deportation and access to work permits for certain foreign nationals unable to return to their country due to natural disasters, armed conflicts, or other extraordinary circumstances.

Reporters raise their hands with questions during a press briefing with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at the White House on September 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The world is literally watching the humanitarian crisis and atrocities in Ukraine as Russia continues its missile bombardment on the country. Just recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that the worst is yet to come.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told theGrio on Wednesday, “we are asking our state department and all of our agencies to do everything they can to help these young people get safely out of Ukraine. And we are asking the Polish government to participate and other governments to participate. We’re doing everything we can to help.”

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