Some Ukrainians fleeing the Russian military invasion of their country are being allowed to enter the United States through its southern border with Mexico, despite a US policy to turn away most asylum seekers.
They said they travelled first through Moldova, then Romania before flying to Mexico. Ukrainians do not need a visa to enter Mexico. “It was hot. We were in the car for three nights because we were in the queue to leave Ukraine,” Krasiuk said of their journey.
The family was eventually allowed into the US, where they planned to join a grandfather who lives in Los Angeles, California.
More than three million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale invasion late last month, according to the United Nations, with the majority finding refuge in neighbouring countries in Europe.
At least 310 Ukrainians have reached Tijuana by air this month, said Jesus Ruiz Uribe, the Mexican government’s delegate for Baja California state.
But the US-Mexico border has been closed to most asylum seekers under a pandemic-era policy known as Title 42, which allows US border officials to turn back most people trying to seek asylum.
More than 1.6 million Title 42 expulsions have been carried out since the order was first invoked by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, according to US government data.
Under President Joe Biden, who took office in January of last year, the US has continued to turn away Central Americans, Haitians and citizens of other crisis-stricken countries, drawing sharp criticism from immigrant rights advocates who have urged Biden to end Title 42.While many rights groups have welcomed recent measures to help Ukrainians, such as extending temporary protected status (TPS) to Ukrainians already in the US for 18 months, they have questioned why asylum seekers from other countries have not been granted the same protections.