According to a new report, a group of 35 Russians were secretly led to the United States last week after waiting days to cross the southwestern border while Ukrainian citizens were welcomed.
The asylum-seekers had camped near the border crossing between Tijuana and San Ysidro, California, and Mexican officials were growing impatient that they would be relocating, VICE World News reported Monday.
According to the outlet, Thomas E. Reott, the US consul in Tijuana, met with members of the Russian camp earlier this month in the presence of Mexican officials and said the asylum seekers could cross the border in three to four days if they passed the border would leave camp.
The Russian refugees – many of them active opponents of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine – reportedly refused to leave, saying three to four days was too long to wait. Finally, on March 19, officials from Mexico’s Baja California state told the group they would be allowed to cross the border at 5 a.m. the next day.
According to Vice, the Russians were taken by Mexican immigration officials to a checkpoint in the US that is closed to the general public and primarily used to process deportees returning to Mexico.
After crossing the border, the group was cleared by Customs and Border Protection officers and held in custody for two days. On March 22, the families of the Russian group in the San Diego area were released and ordered to appear before immigration judges in the coming months. Single adults were taken to immigration detention centers.
Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have traveled to Mexico since the beginning of this year with the ultimate goal of reaching the United States.
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security attempted to make it easier for Ukrainians to enter America from Mexico by allowing officials to bypass Title 42 health protocols when processing them at the border.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued guidance reminding authorities that Ukrainian nationals “and anyone else” expressing so-called “credible fear” at the US-Mexico border are exempt from Title 42, which states it allowing officials to expedite deportations of migrants due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“We process a person’s humanitarian aid application as soon as it is submitted to us,” Mayorkas said at the time. “We have already launched a number of efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to people fleeing war-torn Ukraine. We are exploring other programs that we can implement to expand humanitarian service capabilities.”
Before DHS issued guidelines for Ukrainian refugees, reports had surfaced that border officials were denying entry via Title 42 to both Ukrainians and Russians.
“It’s like Russian roulette. It’s totally unpredictable,” Irina, a math teacher from Moscow, told Vice. “You don’t know the steps on the way. You approach the border without knowing what will happen. You reach the border but don’t know if immigration will let you through. Then when you cross the border, you’re detained, but you don’t know for how long or why.”
A DHS spokesman told Vice that while the department continues to use Title 42 across the border, “there are exceptions on a case-by-case basis for high-risk individuals of all nationalities for humanitarian reasons.” While the department has indicated that Ukrainians are among them, it’s not clear if the guidance extends to Russians.
The State Department did not respond to last week’s agreement after pressure from the outlet, but said the US and Mexico are “working closely together on a variety of issues, including migration.”
https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/russian-refugees-secretly-allowed-into-the-us/ Russian refugees are allowed to enter the US secretly