San Diego

Ukrainian refugees increasing at Tijuana border

Advocates say asylum claims & exemptions not uniformly enforced at border crossings.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Immigration advocates are seeing a surge of Ukrainian and Russian immigrants at the Tijuana border crossing because the invasion of Ukraine three weeks in the past. Some are being allowed in, others not.

There appears to be no rhyme or purpose at the San Ysidro border crossing, as to who will get via and who would not, in keeping with Erika Pinheiro, an immigration advocate with the group, Al Otro Lado.

“The past week or so we really started seeing the first big wave of people who are fleeing the conflict,” stated Pinheiro. “We saw families being turned away. We saw Russians and Ukrainians being admitted, kind of on an ad hoc basis. We saw Russians, Ukrainians and folks from Belarus sleeping outside of the port of entry and waiting days to be admitted.”

Under the present Title 42 immigration insurance policies within the United States, asylum seekers will be turned away indiscriminately due to the pandemic.

Some individuals are being allowed in beneath a humanitarian exemption, like a Ukrainian mom and her kids, who CBS 8 interviewed final week after they crossed.

“It took about 24 hours for her to be approved and then she was admitted with her three children,” stated Pinheiro.

Others haven’t been so fortunate.

“When we see Central American or Black migrants approaching the port of entry, they are told to leave. They are screamed at, they’re told that they cannot access asylum at all,” stated Pinheiro

Ironically, the Ukrainians being let via on humanitarian parole have much less of an opportunity at being granted asylum than these from different international locations, Pinheiro stated.

“The United States does not give asylum for generalized conditions or for people fleeing war,” Pinheiro stated.

Jewish Family Service runs San Diego’s Rapid Response Network at the border, aiding migrants who’re weak.

So far this year, the Rapid Response Network has assisted 453 Ukrainians at the border.  That compares to 878 Ukrainians assisted throughout all of 2021, in keeping with Kate Clark, the group’s Director of Immigration Services.

“Our recently arrived guests from Ukraine tend to be female heads of household with their children.  Our guests have shared that their spouses have stayed behind to fight for Ukraine’s continued independence,” Clark stated.

Advocates are calling for the quick repeal of insurance policies which have allowed migrants to be turned away from the border earlier than looking for asylum.

“The repeal of Title 42 and the MPP program are just a basic first steps,” stated Pinheiro.

If you want to volunteer at the Tijuana border by monitoring the Port of Entry or by aiding refugees in want, contact Jewish Family Service or Al Otro Lado.

WATCH RELATED: War in Ukraine | Ukrainians will be thought-about for asylum regardless of COVID coverage (March 2022)

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