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University leaders ask for federal protection for Ukrainian students

Amanda Barberena / WKAR-MSU

Michigan State University President Samuel Stanley Jr. is joining more than 500 higher education leaders in calling for special immigration status to protect Ukrainians studying in the U.S.

A coalition called the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration is asking the Biden administration to grant Temporary Protected Status to prevent Ukrainians living in the U.S. from being sent back to their home country while the situation is unsafe.

The group is also requesting Special Student Relief to give more flexibility to Ukrainians with student visas.

Two MSU students are Ukrainian citizens, although university spokesman Dan Olsen says it’s likely more have ties to the region. He says counseling and other services are available.

"Michigan does have a extensive number of Ukrainian individuals or individuals of Ukrainian descent here in the state and so we want to make sure we're providing resources for all those who are impacted by these global events," he said.

Russia began an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

"I’ve been deeply troubled by the Russian government’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine and the quickly escalating conflict," Stanley wrote in a campus-wide email Friday.

There are currently no travelers on MSU-sponsored trips in Ukraine, although school officials are in touch with Spartans in other areas of the region like Poland, Russia and Hungary.