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Russians, Ukrainians heading to US-Mexico border seeking asylum

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Headshot of <p class="author-name text-name1">Alex Peebles</p> />
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					<p class=Alex Peebles

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According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, border officials are encountering a growing number of Russians and Ukrainians seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. Between October and January, officials ran into 6,400 Russians. That’s more than the 4,100 Russians who were apprehended during the entirety of fiscal year 2021, which ended a month prior. In that same October-January timeframe, a little more than 1,000 Ukrainians were apprehended. That’s up from 680 apprehensions during FY21.

While the CBP data measures asylum seekers before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, there has been evidence the trend has continued since the invasion began. According to data published by the San Diego Rapid Response Network, Russians have consistently been among the top three nationalities arriving at a local shelter. Last week, Ukrainians were the third most-common nationality among arrivals.

“Repression is intensifying and the people coming out to protest the war are treated very harshly,” Russian dissident Dmitriy Zubarev, who made the trip last year, told Reuters. “There will be more people trying to use refugee routes to escape the bad situation in the country.”

According to Reuters, the Russians and Ukrainians are traveling to Mexico, buying throwaway cars and driving across the border looking for asylum. Almost all of them have been allowed to remain while they pursue asylum claims.

While it has yet to be seen if there will be more Russians and Ukrainians heading to the U.S./Mexico border, the refugee situation in Ukraine is getting worse. Over the weekend, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tweeted “more than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighboring countries in 10 days,” adding that the invasion has led to “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”

On Monday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell warned as many as 5 million people could flee Ukraine.

“We are doing what we can, we are doing whatever is possible to support them, to accommodate them but this is going to be a crisis incomparable to anything Europe has experienced in the recent decades,” Borrell said. “We need to double down on efforts, on humanitarian effort but also on efforts to stop the war.”

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Gwen Baumgardner: IN RECENT MONTHS, A GROWING NUMBER OF RUSSIAN AND UKRAINIAN MIGRANTS HAVE BEEN ARRIVING AT THE US/MEXICO BORDER.
MULTIPLE NEWS OUTLETS ARE REPORTING THEY FLY INTO MEXICO, BUY THROWAWAY CARS — THEN DRIVE ACROSS THE BORDER INTO THE U-S. TO SEEK ASYLUM.
ACCORDING TO CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION DATA — U.S. BORDER OFFICIALS ENCOUNTERED ABOUT 64-HUNDRED RUSSIAN AND A THOUSAND UKRAINIAN MIGRANTS BETWEEN OCTOBER AND JANUARY. THAT’S MORE THAN A 60-PERCENT INCREASE.
IT’S A TREND THAT PRE-DATES RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE, BUT U.S. BORDER OFFICIALS BELIEVE THE CONFLICT COULD LEAD TO A FURTHER INCREASE OF UKRAINIANS SEEKING ASYLUM AT THE BORDER.
THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS GRANTING TEMPORARY WORK PERMITS AND DEPORTATION RELIEF TO UKRAINIANS ALREADY IN THE U.S, AS OF MARCH FIRST.