World

Citizens of Ukraine are allowed to enter the US border, not Russians

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About three dozen Russian refugees were barred from entering the United States on Friday, when a group of Ukrainians were allowed to cross the border. This scene is a reflection of the incredible change that is taking place silently with the citizens of Russia and Ukraine. Citizens of Russia and Ukraine enter Mexico as tourists and fly to Tijuana in hopes of traveling to the United States. The Russians camped for several days on the busiest U.S. border with Mexico until Friday, two days after officials in the city of Tijuana politely asked them to leave.

Until a few days ago, some Russians entered the United States at the San Isidro crossing, and some Ukrainians were detained. But the Russians were denied entry until Friday, when the Ukrainians were sent back after a brief wait. “It’s very difficult to understand how they make decisions,” said Irina Zolinka, 40, a Russian woman.

Erica Pinheiro, who serves as the case and policy director for the advocacy group El Otro Lado, said the United States on Tuesday began accepting all Ukrainians on humanitarian parole for almost a year, even though it does not accept Russian citizens. However, no official announcement has been made in this regard.

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According to a March 11 memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security, border officials were told that Ukrainians could be exempted from the greater asylum limit under measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It said the decision would be made on a case-by-case basis for Ukrainian citizens, although it did not mention the Russians. The memorandum was not released until Thursday. The memorandum states, “The Department of Homeland Security acknowledges that the unreasonable Russian war aggression in Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis.”

Concerned about the safety of his family in Russia, Mark, a Russian expatriate at the border, said three Russian immigrants had been allowed to enter the United States. But six hours later, U.S. officials returned his passport, saying only Ukrainians were allowed to enter. Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mark said the people of Ukraine and Russia are suffering because of just one person. Mark fled the country shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Even before the Russian invasion, the number of Russian and Ukrainian citizens seeking asylum in the United States has increased. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 1,500 Ukrainians entered the U.S. from the Mexican border between September and February, up from 45 Ukrainians who entered the U.S. at the same time a year ago.

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