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Ukrainian refugees stuck in Mexico camp waiting for U.S. action

Some of the Ukrainian refugees have already been to the U.S. border, where they were turned away and told they would not be admitted

Ukrainian refugees
Ukrainian refugees | Tatyana Soares

May 3, 2022 6:53pm

Updated: May 3, 2022 8:55pm

More than 500 Ukrainians are waiting for the United States to let them in camps outside of Mexico City, reported The Associated Press

Around 50 to 100 people arrive every day at the camp that opened a week ago. More than 100 of those in the camp are minors. 

Some of the Ukrainian refugees have already been to the U.S. border, where they were turned away and told they would not be admitted. Others have been arriving from airports in Mexico City or Cancun. 

“We are asking the U.S. government to process faster,” said Anastasiya Polo, co-founder of Uniting for Ukraine, a nongovernmental organization that helped set up the camp. 

United for Ukraine was announced by the Biden administration on April 21. Through the program, Ukrainians would no longer be exempted from the rule that allowed officials to turn away refugees seeking to enter the U.S. because of the pandemic. Ukrainians now have to apply for refugee status from other countries, such as Mexico. 

People who qualify for the program have to have been in Ukraine as of February 11, need to have a sponsor, and pass background checks, among other measures. 

“Uniting for Ukraine provides a pathway for Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members who are outside the United States to come to the United States and stay temporarily in a two-year period of parole. Ukrainians participating in Uniting for Ukraine must have a supporter in the United States who agrees to provide them with financial support for the duration of their stay in the United States,” announced the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

According to the U.N., around 5.5 million Ukrainians have fled their war-torn country since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine. 

In late March, the U.S. government announced that it would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. However, the Biden administration did not establish a direct process for the refugees to arrive, prompting the displaced to go to Mexico and try their luck at the U.S. border.

At the beginning, many Ukrainians only had to wait a few days to cross the border on humanitarian parole. The time eventually was shortened to a few hours. 

However, the U.S. stopped giving special treatment to Ukrainians and changed the rules, making them fill out the process like any other refugee. This constant change of regulations has left many refugees in limbo in Mexico.