Kent County isn’t the only Eastern Shore county with a declining, aging population. But, it’s Maryland’s smallest, with 19,198 and a median age approaching 50 (2020 Census) and it’s where my wife Judy and I live.
Thus, when I began to write about the death and destruction Russia has forced on Ukraine and watched the number of Ukrainians fleeing their homes rise over 5 million, I thought of Kent County’s demographics However, I know there are other Eastern Shore communities that might be interested in sponsoring these innocent victims for resettlement in our nine counties so am sharing my research.
Brief General Description of Average Ukrainian Refugees:
They are younger (27-40), many are mothers with 1-2 children, are educated (14-15 years the norm), highly literate (national rate 99%), speak English, very responsible, self-reliant, and are highly motivated to work hard to support/raise their families. And they are tough and resilient, as we know..
The US Government has responded very positively to the the plight of these millions of desperate people and will allow an initial 100,000 to enter the United States based on the “parole authority” of the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), for an an initial period of 2 years. The entry document is called an I-134.
DHS has begun to introduce a program called U4U that will manage the entry of the 100,000 parolees. Over the next month or two, it will create interactive websites on-line. The other, traditional visa options are also available, but are much more time-consuming. To participate in U4U, the Ukrainian must have lived in Ukraine on 2/11/22.
As soon as the Ukrainians are settled in the United States, they may apply for a work permit, but the approval takes on average 7 months to be granted.
U4U Program Details:
No Federal funding supports U4U, but a number of 501 C3 organizations became operational to help transition the Afghan refugees or asylum beneficiaries, into the United States. They are now working with the Ukrainians as well and have recruited large numbers of volunteers.
The U4U program is entirely dependent on “sponsors” (individuals, companies, foundations, churches, etc.) It is the sponsor, not the refugee, who initiates the process using application form I-134. I’m working with one of the major sponsorship support organizations.
There is a large Ukrainian diaspora in America, mostly in major cities, e.g Washington, D.C., NYC, Chicago and Indianapolis. They are actively sponsoring relatives, friends, friends of friends, business associates or suppliers, colleagues etc. At the moment, the diaspora sponsor activities are centered in Frankfurt, KY.
Those with these direct connections have been in touch with each other since the Russians began to surround Ukraine in 2021 and then exploded after the 2/24/22 Russian invasion. However, there are many without these relationships.
DHS’ cost estimate that prospective sponsors must accept and demonstrate capacity to provide, is $13,140 per person, per year. However, the Department is in the early stages of setting up its operation, so it is likely this figure will change as it is broken down more specifically, i.e. per child, per teen, per adult male, female and adjusted to geographic location.
I’m working with friends at the State and Homeland Security Departments and large, long-established organizations that have been working in the crisis resettlement arena for years. A tentative target for Kent resettlement, depending on sponsors, is 5- 10 Ukrainian families or 30-50 people We’ve decided that the best sponsor is one who can offer employment, housing and 6 months of financial support. This argues for a sponsor group, private sector employers, humanitarian organizations, several churches or family clusters..
Tom Timberman is an Army vet, lawyer, former senior Foreign Service officer, adjunct professor at GWU, and economic development team leader or foreign government advisor in war zones. He is the author of four books, lectures locally and at US and European universities. He and his wife are 24 year residents of Kent County.