Ukrainian family makes it to US after fleeing Russian invasion | WGN radio 720

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) – Sofia left Ukraine with her three children shortly after Russian troops invaded her country late last month.

Her sudden departure took her to Moldova, Romania, Germany and Mexico City, and finally to the border city of Tijuana.

On Monday they were stranded in the port of San Ysidro.

They tried to cross the border twice – once on foot and once by car. Both times, however, they were turned away by US Customs and Border Protection officials.

Moved to tears, Sofia huddled with her three children, ages 6, 12 and 14, on the Mexico side of the border crossing.

As luck would have it, Blaine Bookey stopped by and offered his help.

Bookey, the legal director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings in San Francisco, gave Sofia advice and referred her to the US consulate in Tijuana.

On Thursday, Sofia was ready for another attempt to enter the United States, this time with the correct papers and other documents in hand.

“I probably don’t have any other place to go,” Sofia said as she prepared to approach the first checkpoint with CBP officers. “I have family and friends in the US who are willing to support me and they are asking me to leave Ukraine because of the situation.”

Sofia and her children were allowed through the first CBP checkpoint at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. (Jorge Nieto/Special for Border Report)

Sofia told Border Report she left her family, including her mother, in Ukraine.

“I’m worried about my family,” she said.

But there was no turning back for Sofia once CBP officials waved her through.

Typically, migrants must complete a COVID-19 quarantine period before being released north of the border to families or sponsors.

After some processing at the San Ysidro port of entry, she was permitted entry into the United States, although she and her children remained in US custody overnight at an unnamed CBP facility. On Friday afternoon, CBP left the family to some Los Angeles relatives.

An unidentified Ukrainian couple were denied entry to the United States at the San Ysidro port of entry. (Jorge Nieto/Special for Border Report)

The US does grant temporary protected status to Ukrainians already in the US, but not necessarily to newcomers.

A CBP spokesman told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Title 42 remains in effect and that the Department of Homeland Security may exempt “particularly vulnerable individuals” from deportation on a case-by-case basis.

While Sofia and her family were able to gain access north of the border, a couple from Ukraine were reportedly turned away because the woman did not have her passport and other papers.

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