The Morning Dispatch: How Will the U.S. Admit Ukraine's Refugees?
Pledging our intention to welcome 100,000 displaced Ukrainians is one thing; quickly finding room for them in our maze of overloaded immigration systems is another.
Happy Thursday! Opening Day is here; hope springs eternal!
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
In response to alleged atrocities in Bucha, the Biden administration on Wednesday announced a new package of sanctions targeting Russia. The United States will prohibit Americans from making new investments in Russia, implement full blocking sanctions (with carveouts for energy) on two of Russia’s largest financial institutions (Sberbank and Alfa Bank), restrict Russia from making debt payments “with funds subject to U.S. jurisdiction,” and sanction Vladimir Putin’s children, Sergei Lavrov’s wife and daughter, and members of Russia’s Security Council.
The Justice Department announced Wednesday it had charged Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev with violating U.S. sanctions put in place after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. FBI Director Christopher Wray added that U.S. law enforcement detected and disrupted a global botnet controlled by the Russian military intelligence agency, removing malware from thousands of devices “before it could do any harm.”
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday his administration would extend the pause on federal student loan repayments—first put in place by the Trump administration in March 2020—until August 31. Biden had already prolonged the moratorium in August 2021 (which he claimed at the time would be the final extension) and in December 2021. The Department of Education said yesterday it would also allow those with paused loans to receive a “fresh start” on repayment by “eliminating the impact of delinquency and default and allowing them to reenter repayment in good standing.”
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday released minutes from its March policy meeting revealing board members plan to “expeditiously” move monetary policy to a “neutral” posture by reducing the central bank’s balance sheet by $95 billion a month. According to the notes, many meeting participants believed it “could be appropriate” in the near future to hike interest rates in larger increments than March’s 0.25-percentage-point increase.
Israeli lawmaker Idit Silman announced Wednesday she is leaving Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s governing coalition. The move deadlocks the Knesset—Israel’s parliament—at 60 seats apiece for Bennett’s government and the opposition coalition, meaning the government will require opposition support to advance legislation. One more defection would allow the opposition to dissolve the Knesset and call for a new election.
GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio announced Tuesday he will retire at the end of his current term after 12 years in Congress, blaming his state’s “circus” redistricting process, which significantly reshaped his voter base and is still facing legal challenges. He would have had to face a primary challenge from Max Miller, a former Trump administration staffer backed by the former president.
The House voted 220-203 on Wednesday to hold two former Trump aides—Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino—in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas from the January 6 Select Committee. It remains to be seen whether the Department of Justice will act on Congress’ referral. Steve Bannon was indicted following a contempt of Congress vote, but former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has thus far not been.
Brian Kolfage—the Air Force veteran accused of defrauding Trump supporters by crowdfunding money to “build the wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border—has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and multiple tax charges, according to a Justice Department filing.
U.S. Promised to Welcome 100,000 Ukrainians. Can We?
President Joe Biden announced March 24 that the U.S. will welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s invasion. The plan is popular—seven in 10 Americans, including 57 percent of Republicans, supported admitting “thousands” of Ukrainian refugees in a mid-March Pew Research Center poll—but the administration’s been slow to fill in the details.
“We’ve got some questions,” Matthew Soerens, head of refugee resettlement group World Relief, told The Dispatch. “When are they coming? And where in the United States? And how, in terms of the legal processes that we use?”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, more than 4 million Ukrainians—nearly 10 percent of the population—have fled the country, according to the United Nations. Poland, a country of under 40 million, has accepted nearly 2.5 million of them, with many passing through but others staying in makeshift shelters and host homes. The European Union enacted the Temporary Protection Directive, which allows Ukrainians to find jobs, travel visa-free within the EU, and access public schools, housing, and healthcare for at least the next year.
Host country officials worry they’ll run out of money and volunteers to support the growing number of displaced Ukrainians. “The U.N.’s estimating 5 million will leave Ukraine, but some European member countries are already adjusting that number up to 8 million or 15 million,” Amanda Catanzano, a policy director at the International Rescue Committee, told a Council on Foreign Relations panel in March. “Any way you add it up, the scale is just massive.”
Worth Your Time
When Russian forces withdrew from Motyzhyn, Ukraine, last week after a month-long occupation, locals found their mayor—Olha Sukhenko—in a shallow grave, next to her husband and her son. Their hands were bound. This Wall Street Journal piece—written by James Marson, with photographs from Emanuele Satolli—tells the story of Russia’s brutality. “The 50-year-old mayor held together her central Ukrainian village, cut off and near the fighting at the front. She delivered food and medicine. And she helped the resistance, part of an undercover effort to send Russian troop positions and movements to her country’s military,” Marson writes. “Residents say the Russian aggression against locals surged as the Russians came under attacks from Ukrainian artillery and ambush teams. The Russians shot two women while hunting for Ukrainian agents, they say. The body of another man, a security guard from the local cottage compound, was found dumped down a well. ‘Those are my relatives in that pit,’ said Ihor Radchenko, the Sukhenkos’ son-in-law, crouched nearby as local men began to dig the mayor’s family out on Monday. ‘Why were they killed? Because they were Ukrainians.’”
Given it’s Opening Day, take a few minutes to read (or re-read) Roger Angell’s timeless essay about our national pastime, “The Interior Stadium,” first published in The New Yorker in 1971. “Within the ballpark, time moves differently, marked by no clock except the events of the game,” he writes. “This is the unique, unchangeable feature of baseball, and perhaps explains why this sport, for all the enormous changes it has undergone in the past decade or two, remains somehow rustic, unviolent, and introspective. Baseball’s time is seamless and invisible, a bubble within which players move at exactly the same pace and rhythms as all their predecessors. This is the way the game was played in our youth and in our fathers’ youth, and even back then—back in the country days—there must have been the same feeling that time could be stopped. Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.”
On Fox News over the weekend, Sen. Ted Cruz criticized Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for her work as a public defender, arguing people go into that line of work because “their heart is with the murderers, the criminals, and that’s who they’re rooting for.” Cruz—an Ivy League-educated lawyer who clerked on the Supreme Court—should know that charge is ridiculous. “If we are to have a legal system that allows people, institutions, and governments to defend themselves against charges of illegal conduct—and we should have that system—then we are going to have lawyers who defend their clients to the best of their ability,” Charlie Cooke writes for National Review. “It doesn’t matter whether the defendant is popular, whether the institution is sympathetic, or whether the law is a good one—none of that is the point. The point is that an adversarial legal system requires advocates who will relentlessly press their case, and, in so doing, force the other side to prove its brief to a high standard. There is nothing wrong with … people who are willing to become public defenders and defend clients they suspect are guilty, and to suggest otherwise betrays an unthinking and opportunistic illiberalism.”
Presented Without Comment
Also Presented Without Comment
Toeing the Company Line
On the site today, Andrew Fink interviews Dr. Tomas Ries about the parallels and differences between Stalin’s “Winter War” against Finland at the outset of World War II and Putin’s current war against Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ryan Brown takes a look at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Thomas Chiapelas argues that progressive education has grown to resemble “a faith-like ideology of moral construct and moral judgment” that is unfit for public schools, and Brent Orrell and Alex Nowrasteh write that the U.S. should open its doors to skilled immigration from Russia and Belarus.
David filled in for Jonah on Wednesday’s Remnant, joined by Brookings Institution senior fellow Jonathan Rauch for a conversation about LGBTQ activism, Florida’s new education bill, and how conservatives should approach radical gender ideology.
Scott finished his two-part globalization series in yesterday’s Capitolism (🔒), this time focusing on international trade rules. “Uncertainty reigns and changes are afoot, but there’s little sign that Ukraine will cause the widescale abandonment of either the WTO or ‘globalization’ properly understood,” he argues.
On yesterday’s Dispatch Podcast, Sarah spoke with retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois about what she’s learned from her decade in the House, how Democrats can improve their 2022 prospects, and more.
In Wednesday’s G-File (🔒), Jonah wonders if it’s time to start formally labeling Russian atrocities in Ukraine genocide. “For conversation purposes,” he concludes, “it’s perfectly defensible and largely accurate to say that Putin is determined to commit cultural genocide and to use conventionally genocidal tactics to get what he wants.”