High Priority at the Border
Joining the other many thousands of Hispanics seeking asylum inside the USA are the Ukrainians. In most cases, the Ukrainians have fled the war-torn country that Russia is raping and destroying. As we know, millions of Ukrainians have fled and have been settling in Poland, Hungary, which are nearing capacity levels to receive many more. Other Ukrainians have moved to Italy, France, England. While Europe is taking them all with welcome arms, the USA, a much farther destination for those without much money remains a challenge. Yet, the Ukrainian surge at the US-Mexican border at Tijuana (south of San Diego, California) has arrived. These Ukrainians, like the others, fled when the war erupted. Many have American relatives while others do not.
Hundreds of American volunteers await them after their immigration is completed to find them transportation, shelter, food, medical needs. The latest figures show that 600 Ukrainians are camping along with the Hispanics near the border awaiting their turn by a number given to them at the US Immigration. Then, they wait their turn to provide passports of Ukrainian citizenship for processing. Another 500 Ukrainians are awaiting in nearby hotels.
The good thing is that Ukrainian refugees have high priority in processing parole once citizenship is verified. Abot 100 Ukrainians are processed daily at this one immigration site (there are several along the border in Arizona, Texas). This can cause some resentment among those Hispanics who have been waiting much longer time because suddenly the Ukrainians move to the head of line in priority. But so far, the Mexicans and other Hispanics have not shown much of this as they understand.
The processing time for a family of Ukrainians takes 2-3 days before they are allowed to cross into the USA and the already there are 1000 waiting and more arrive weekly. Most of the refugees refer to social media platforms and messaging apps, groups with thousands of members now explain the process in the Ukrainian language:
- From major European cities, fly to either Cancún or Mexico City. Ukrainians don’t need visas to enter the country. From there, take another flight to Tijuana.
- Some have said the other US border locations like Texas or Arizona are not processing Ukrainians
- Once at Tijuana, Mexico, go to the US immigration site and obtain a number and wait for your turn
- Flights from Brussels are around $1300 USD to Mexico according to the Telagram Channel called "Ukraine Mexico"
Many Ukrainians at the US border have indicated that when they went to US Embassy in Poland or Hungary for how to go to the US, they were told that nothing was available yet. There was no new procedure to expedite them. This is where the Biden administration has failed. After President Biden announced that the USA would welcome 100,000 Ukrainians, nothing has been done in the processing of them. Biden should have instructed all US embassies to fast track any Ukrainian refugees seeking to go to the USA via the parole system. This system is available and can be fast allowing refugees temporary entry into the USA for a month or so. Instead, refugees just fly to the border between the US and Mexico, get a number, and wait to be processed. What is more frustrating than fleeing a war zone and going to the US embassy and be told "nothing can be done yet"!
Ukrainians that do have family members already in the USA have an easier time in getting in because they have a place to go to and care waiting. Those who have no family in the USA will have a harder time getting in because aid organizations need to provide housing, food, medical needs. Of course, mixed in with the Ukrainians are some Russians that also fled that lived in Ukraine. It is unclear whether they will get in and if your Ukrainian with a criminal record, you probably will not get in, depending how serious it is.
The good news is the immigration procedures at the border station is giving Ukrainians high priority in processing once their number is called. It still may take a 2-3 days to enter the USA.