TIJUANA, BAJA CALIFORNIA (March 18, 2022).- About three dozen would-be asylum seekers from Russia found themselves blocked from entering the U.S. on Friday, March 18, while a group of Ukrainians flashed passports and were escorted across the border.
The scene reflected a quiet but unmistakable shift in the differing treatment of Russians and Ukrainians who enter Mexico as tourists and fly to Tijuana, hoping to enter the U.S. for a chance at asylum.,
The Russians — 34 as of Friday — had been camped several days at the busiest U.S border crossing with Mexico, two days after Tijuana officials gently urged them to leave.
They sat on mats and blankets, checking smartphones, chatting and snacking, with sleeping bags and strollers nearby as a stream of pedestrian border crossers filed past them. Five young girls sat and talked in a circle, some with stuffed animals.
Days earlier, some Russians were being admitted to the U.S. at the San Ysidro crossing, while some Ukrainians were blocked. But by Friday, Russians were denied while Ukrainians were admitted after short waits.
“It’s very hard to understand how they make decisions,” said Irina Zolinka, a 40-year-old Russian woman who camped overnight with her family of seven after arriving in Tijuana on Thursday.The YodelFree. Cancel anytime A daily roundup of news, sports, finance, and more.
Erika Pinheiro, litigation and policy director for advocacy group Al Otro Lado, said the U.S. began admitting all Ukrainians on humanitarian parole for one year around Tuesday, while at the same time blocking all Russians. There was no official announcement.
A Homeland Security Department memo dated March 11 but not publicly released until Thursday told border officials that Ukrainians may be exempt from sweeping asylum limits designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It says decisions are to be made case-by-case for Ukrainians but makes no mention of Russians.
“The Department of Homeland Security recognizes that the unjustified Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis,” the memo states.
Homeland Security indicated in a statement Friday that anyone deemed “particularly vulnerable” may be admitted for humanitarian reasons on a case-by-case review, regardless of nationality.
Russian migrants in Tijuana sat off to the side of a line of hundreds of border residents waiting to walk across the border to San Diego on Friday. The line was unimpeded.
Source: El Universal