California church on a mission to help Ukrainian refugees

Immigration

(NewsNation) — Hundreds of Ukrainians are camping in the Mexican border city of Tijuana hoping to seek U.S. asylum even after the Biden administration said the United States would accept up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Russia’s war.

About 600 Ukrainians are camping near the border entry and 500 more are staying in hotels in the city, said Enrique Lucero, Tijuana’s migration affairs director.

“I think the big concerns are just the numbers keep on increasing and there’s only so much space there,” said Phil Metzger, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel in San Diego. Tijuana officials say 40% of the Ukrainian refugees are children.

Metzger said on “Morning in America” his congregation is helping refugees from both sides of the border by providing them with shelter, food and support while they wait for asylum. He says their process helps prevent people from being picked up by Border Patrol.

“Our partners are at the airport to meet people, to speak to them in Ukrainian or Russian, to let them know the process. We get them a number, we get them on a bus that the Mexican government is providing us, to take them to what we call the TJ hub where they have an indoor rec center to rest,” Metzger said. “Many of them have been already traveling for about a week and a half. They get to rest, we get them some food, some water, and there’s Wi-Fi where they can check in with family or friends that they’re going to be visiting or staying with once they get into the States.”

Metzger says after a stop at the TJ hub, refugees transition to an outdoor park closer to the border, which he says is not comfortable, but is the “next step on their journey” and they will eventually move up. Lucero said around 100 Ukrainians are being allowed to cross into the United States daily. 

Some Calvary Chapel members are even hosting about 50 to 75 Ukrainian families every two nights “until there’s not a need.”

“We’re kind of in it for the long haul…We feel it’s a privilege to get to serve people and help people. They’re here because they have no other options,” Metzger said. “We just want to love them and let them know we believe God loves them has a plan for them. They’re here, they didn’t want to be, but we want to help them as much as we possibly can.”

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