Iryna Volvach traveled from Ukraine to California on a tour package with a friend and decided to stay for a few months. When Russia invaded Ukraine, leaving her stuck in the U.S., she worried about her children and grandchildren back home.
As Volvach, 62, tearfully told The Associated Press this week about her efforts to rescue her family, the Biden administration announced humanitarian relief that could keep thousands of Ukrainians in the U.S. without fear of deportation to their embattled homeland.
“Thank you,” Volvach said in English last Thursday as the news was relayed to her through her Russian-speaking friend.
“They are happy I am here,” she said in Russian. “They are not worried about me. I am worried about them.”
Volvach’s reaction reflects emotions many Ukrainians who are currently in the U.S. may feel about the decision to grant the temporary protected status, or TPS, they’d been seeking since the Russian invasion, which marks the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II. The invasion has caused a humanitarian crisis that has driven more than 1.2 million people to flee Ukraine since the fighting began, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.