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Ukrainian family celebrates ‘freedom’ crossing US border

SAN YSIDRO — An emotional new video shows Ukrainians breathing out a collective sigh of relief as they crossed the US border after fleeing an invasion of their homeland by Russian forces.

Footage from the scene at the San Ysidro port of entry on Monday shows parents hugging their children and loved ones after successfully crossing the US-Mexico border.

Others wipe away tears after having to travel to the United States without their spouses and sons.

Video captured at the scene shows a Ukrainian man, Artem Matveichuk, speaking candidly about fleeing the raging war with his wife Mila and their two children, when they were finally able to experience “the smell of freedom.”

Matveichuk explained that the family escaped the horrors of war and subsequent atrocities in their hometown of Irpin, northwest of the capital Kyiv. Matveichuk recalled seeing “civilians lying on the ground everywhere” after sustained attacks by Russian forces.

A Ukrainian mother named Natalia and her child Victoria, 4, left the country after entering the United States from Mexico.
A Ukrainian mother named Natalia and her child Victoria smile after crossing into the United States from Mexico.
James Keivom
A Ukrainian mother named Natalia and her child Victoria, 4, left the country after entering the United States from Mexico.
The US will take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees displaced by the war.
James Keivom

“We appreciate being able to come here to this safe place and we feel real support for the Ukrainians here and the American government. We appreciate this opportunity that we have here and just look forward to a good place where we can stay safe and raise our children,” he said in the video.

In another clip, Matveichuk spoke about his two sons, explaining that their youngest son, Eldar, has special needs that the war has made even more difficult to meet.

“When we got out of line there were some officers standing there and I asked him what smells good in here and he thought I’d ask him about some restaurants nearby but I said no, it smells like freedom. We laughed together, but it’s true – we feel safe here and nothing compares to it,” Matveichuk added.

Ukrainian immigrants come to the United States from Mexico.
Families hug at the US-Mexico border.
James Keivom
Ukrainian immigrants come to the United States from Mexico.
A Ukrainian wipes away her tears after making it to the US.
James Keivom
Ukrainian immigrants come to the United States from Mexico.
Ukrainians joyfully welcome their loved ones to the United States.
James Keivom

Tens of hundreds of refugees arrived in Texas last week after traveling from Ukraine to the Netherlands before flying to Mexico.

“You will drive [in] in a taxi all the way to the bridge, and they’ll say, ‘We’re asking for asylum,'” said Rebecca Solloa, executive director of Laredo Diocese Catholic Charities. “[Customs agents] will get her out of the car and move forward.”

The number of shelters is unofficial and the actual number of border crossings is likely higher than reported as many Ukrainian asylum seekers bypass migrant shelters entirely upon arrival.

Dennis Voiniak of Irvine, California, and his son Ivan, 5, run to greet Voiniak's sister, Maria.
Dennis Voiniak from Irvine, California, and his son Ivan run to greet Voiniak’s sister Maria.
James Keivom
Maria Voiniak from Kyiv, Ukraine hugs her brother Dennis Voiniak from Irvine, California.
Maria Voiniak from Kyiv, Ukraine hugs her brother Dennis Voiniak.
James Keivom
Maria Voiniak from Kyiv, Ukraine welcomes her nephew Ivan, 5.
Maria Voiniak welcomes her nephew Ivan.
James Keivom

The Biden administration announced last month that it would take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees displaced by the war.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to The Post’s requests for information on the number of Ukrainian refugees.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that more than 10,000 Ukrainians visited Mexico as tourists in the first two months of this year, and officials believe most of that number will eventually travel to the United States.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/12/ukrainian-family-celebrates-freedom-upon-crossing-us-border/ Ukrainian family celebrates ‘freedom’ crossing US border

JACLYN DIAZ

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