Thousands of Ukrainians have gathered in the Mexican city of Tijuana hoping to seek asylum and enter the United States for humanitarian reasons.
After the intensification of the Russian attack on Ukraine, more Ukrainians began to appear in Tijuana, Mexico, in search of entry into the United States.
“At the end of February, we started to see the arrival of groups of Ukrainians in our region. Their number began to increase over the weeks. ”
Mexican officials like Roman Cota say thousands of people have arrived there.
“Unlike other groups of people, who usually come here, and who decide after a short time whether to cross the border or stay, one hundred percent of them start the asylum application process to enter the United States. United ” he says.
19-year-old Davyd Shetela from Lutsk, a city in northwestern Ukraine, is one of them.
“I was in London, where I worked for a year. I had a plane ticket to return to Ukraine on February 25, but the war started there on February 24. “So I came here by plane.”
He says he feels welcome in Tijuana.
“When I arrived in Tijuana, the volunteers helped me. They hugged me and were very hospitable. They asked me where I was from, how old I was, and sent me to a tent where I registered. “They explained to me how the system works and brought me here in a van.” says the Ukrainian refugee.
Thousands of people are taking refuge in the Benito Juárez Sports Center, where they are waiting to be transferred to the port of entry into El Chaparral.
“I would like people of all nationalities who come here to the state of Tijuana to have the same support. “But with the Ukrainians, American organizations have offered their full support, and that has allowed us to make a lot of progress.” says Mexican immigration official Adriana Minerva Espinoza Nolasco.
Patricia McGurk-Daniel, deputy director of the Border Patrol in San Diego, says the United States and Mexico are working together to make the process work.
“This is a good example of the government’s commitment to helping a certain group of people who are fleeing the war. We were prepared and we knew they would come. “We are now examining their cases.” says Patricia McGurk-Daniel, Deputy Director of the San Diego Border Patrol.
Pharmacist Iryna Potapska left Odessa with her daughter before the start of the war, for a holiday in Turkey. Two weeks later, at the request of her family, instead of returning to Ukraine, she was reunited in San Ysidro, California, with her sister, Alona Bastys, who lives in New York.
“I plan to return to Ukraine. I love my country. I love New York and America, but I want to return home.” she says.
Despite the hospitality from the United States and Mexico, most of these refugees say they do not want to stay in these countries. After the end of the war, they hope to return to Ukraine and rebuild their country.