Ukrainians entering US through Mexico
Hundreds of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of their homeland have arrived at Mexico’s northern border seeking asylum in the US.
Local authorities says there are 1500 Ukrainians in the border city of Tijuana.
The US Department of Homeland Security is allowing Ukrainians, on a case-by-case basis, to be exempted from pandemic related migration restrictions introduced by the Trump administration, which will end anyway on May 23.
US officials have begun directing Ukrainians to a pedestrian crossing in San Diego that is temporarily closed to the public, hoping to process hundreds each day.
Volunteer groups in California are providing arriving families with essentials such as food, blankets, tents, and toys to keep their children occupied.
The groups are also putting the people arriving at the border on a list and assigning them a number, so that they won’t have to stay in line the entire time they wait for entry, which can be more than 24 hours.
The city of Tijuana is also providing some relief with temporary shelters and food.
Word has spread on social media that a loose volunteer coalition, largely from Orthodox churches in the western US, is guiding hundreds of refugees daily from the Tijuana airport to temporary shelters.
One volunteer group reported on social media that the US processed 620 Ukrainians over 24 hours, with about 800 arriving daily in Tijuana.
The Biden administration has said it will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians, but Mexico is the only route producing big numbers. Appointments at US consulates in Europe are scarce, and refugee resettlement takes time.
The administration set a refugee resettlement cap of 125,000 in the 12-month period ending on September 30 but had accepted just 8,758 by the end of March, including 704 Ukrainians.
Last year, it capped refugee resettlement at 62,500 but took only 11,411, including 803 Ukrainians.
But the US government is preparing for much larger numbers when pandemic-related asylum limits for all nationalities end May 23.
On 21 February 2022, Russia officially recognised the two self-proclaimed separatist states in the Donbas and openly sent troops into the territories. Three days later it Russia invaded Ukraine.
An estimated ten million people have been forced from their homes, many seeking shelter in neighbouring countries to the west.
Much of the international community has condemned Russia for its actions in post-revolutionary Ukraine, accusing it of breaking international law and violating Ukrainian sovereignty.
Many countries, including the US and Australia, have implemented economic sanctions against Russia, Russian individuals and companies after the invasion.