Ukrainians, anti-war Russians seeking asylum in U.S.

U.S.

(NewsNation) — More than 4.1 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded in late February, most to neighboring countries such as Poland and Romania, Some, however, are coming to the U.S — and the Ukrainian refugees are being joined in the search for asylum by Russians fleeing their regime.

For months, thousands of Ukrainians and Russians have ben arriving in Mexico on tourist visas, but the goal of most is to come into the neighboring U.S. Officials are now seeing more Ukrainians doing just that.

Along the U.S. port of entry in San Ysidro sits a welcome wagon greeting war refugees from Ukraine. It’s staffed by a Ukrainian named “Roma.”

Roma fled Kyiv just two weeks ago. She was just granted humanitarian parole in the U.S.

“It’s the best emotion in my life because I have the opportunity … the beginning,” Roma said. “I’m a doctor and my hospital is destroyed in Kyiv, also my home is destroyed. I have no flat, I have no hospital … but I have an opportunity to flee for the U.S. and I am so grateful for this.”

A collection of volunteers from multiple organizations wait at the welcome wagon to encourage others. One group of Ukrainians had to leave quickly in order to catch a flight north to their church hosts awaiting their arrival in Sacramento.

“There is definitely joy in being able to do something, especially so far away from the war,” said Arturo Barraza, a volunteer with Cavalry Church San Diego. “We’re having refugees coming to our doorstep.”

It’s becoming a steadier stream of Ukrainians coming into the U.S. from the southern border. But back in Tijuana, a growing number of frustrated Russians are also seeking asylum in the U.S.

A Russian named “Mark” spoke to NewsNation. He believes anti-war Russians deserve the same U.S. welcome.

“So, it’s some kind of, I don’t know, discrimination. We have the same problem. Yes, there isn’t war in my country but in my country, there is a regime (that cause the war) and I was escaping from that,” Mark explained.

The Biden administration recently announced a plan to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Many are hearing of the widening path through Tijuana, and refugees such as Roma are hopeful she won’t need the full year of the humanitarian parole.

“Ukraine is my country. I want to live in my country, but now Ukraine is unsafe and so dangerous.”

From last October through February, there were 1,300 encounters with Ukrainians along the southern border. Numbers since the war are not out yet, but volunteers say they are seeing more than 100 Ukrainians daily.

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