Ukrainian family denied entry at U.S. border after fleeing war

Southern border crossers.
(Image credit: PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

A Ukrainian family seeking asylum from the war back home was turned away from the U.S. border in San Diego on Wednesday after attempting to reach family in California, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

A spokesperson from Customs and Border Protection told the Union-Tribune that the agency is "looking into the situation."

"I'm not asking for anything from the United States, just to be let in," the 34-old-mother, who requested she be identified as Sofiia, told the Union-Tribune. "All we need is to be safe. All we want is to keep our lives safe." She is accompanied by her three children ages 14, 12, and 6.

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Though the U.S. has offered "temporary protected status" to Ukrainians already in the states when Russia's invasion first began, the coverage does not apply to subsequent arrivals.

That means "any Ukrainians who manage to flee to the U.S. border will have to navigate the same restrictions that have sent other asylum seekers back to Mexico," the Union-Tribune writes, "where thousands of asylum seekers have faced kidnappings, assaults and other violent attacks."

Sofiia said "it was my luck" that she left when she did. Her family still in Ukraine has told her they're running out of food, medicine, and gas.

The family was reportedly denied entry when a relative, a U.S. citizen, came to pick them up, and again when Sofiia tried to request asylum through the pedestrian lane at San Ysidro Port of Entry. Even when immigration lawyers who overheard the situation got involved, nothing changed.

"We left our lives, our jobs, our families and houses in Ukraine just to escape from this horrible war," she said. "All my friends and family are far, far away from me, and I don't know if they will be alive tomorrow. I just want to keep my kids' lives safe."

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Brigid Kennedy

Brigid is a staff writer at The Week and a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her passions include improv comedy, David Fincher films, and breakfast food. She lives in New York.