With the Biden administration offering a stern rebuke to Ukrainian refugees who don’t get their paperwork done quite right, families wanting to enter the U.S. are beginning to follow the crowd and have been entering the country through America’s porous southern border.
A recent report by Newsweek said that despite President Joe Biden’s words that refugees from Ukraine would be welcome in the U.S., refugees were being shunted to detention centers operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“[N]ow we’re seeing Ukrainians fleeing an active invasion going to ICE detention. Biden said they’d be welcomed with open arms. That’s not happening,” said Jennifer Scarborough, an immigration attorney.
“The fact that people from Ukraine have family here, friends here they can connect with, and they’re not allowing them to enter the U.S. is hugely problematic,” Scarborough continued. “Unless [the Biden administration] changes their policies, we expect the number of detentions to increase.”
This drew a response from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who explained that Ukrainian refugees need to file paperwork and “have to apply through the existing programs,” according to a White House transcript of her briefing.
With that as the background, Ukrainian refugees are increasingly following the path of least resistance and entering through Mexico.
Almost 1,000 Ukrainians showed up at the border in March, according to Axios, which cited Department of Homeland Security documents as its source.
Only 272 Ukrainians were encountered at the border in February, according to the report.
More are on the way, according to the Wall Street Journal.
More than 10,000 Ukrainians entered Mexico in January and February, more than twice the normal year’s average of about 4,000. While entering as tourists, most are likely heading to the U.S., Mexican immigration officials say.
The Journal report noted that Ukrainians can enter Mexico with no visa, then seek asylum in the U.S., undergoing the process while already here.
Russians are also fleeing their homeland, according to the report, with more than 30,000 Russians entering Mexico in the first two months of this year, more than twice the usual yearly average of about 12,380. Although many Russians are allowed in the U.S., some are turned back, the Journal reported.
Immigration officials have sent many illegal immigrants back using Title 42 — a rule put in place during the pandemic to limit the spread of COVID-19, but the Journal report said last week officials at the border were told they could make an exception for Ukrainians.
“The Department of Homeland Security recognizes that the unjustified Russian war of aggression has created a humanitarian crisis,” the memo said.
Once they cross the border, a provision called “humanitarian parole” comes into play, allowing them in the country for a year.
Thousands of Ukrainians and Russians fleeing war and sanctions are increasingly using Mexico as a transit point as they try to migrate to the U.S. Most choose this route because they don’t need a visa to fly directly to Mexico. https://t.co/ZD8FOGFSbh
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) March 26, 2022
“We get to stay … for one year,” Ilona Martyniuk said after spending 30 minutes in a Customs and Border Protection facility.
Vladymyr Ostapchuk and his family took 20 days to go from Ukraine to Germany to Mexico and then to America.
“I feel safe, better,” Ostapchuk said at the crossing, shortly before being allowed into the U.S.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.