“U.S. authorities along the Mexican border are being instructed to think about the possibility of exempting Ukrainians from restrictions related to pandemics to allow them into the country in order to apply for asylum in accordance with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo obtained by CBS News.”
In a conference interview for reporters, held Thursday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the guidance is intended to remind Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers that their authority to exclude certain immigrants in Title 42, an expulsion policy that was first introduced under Trump, is applicable to Ukrainians who seek U.S. refuge.
The memo advises CBP agents at the ports of entry to look into exempting immigrants with current Ukrainian passports to Title 42, and instead process them according to the normal immigration procedure and allow asylum seekers to apply.
“The Department of Homeland Security recognizes that the unjustified Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis,” the March 11 guidance stated. “CBP is authorized, consistent with Title 42 Order, on a case-by-case basis, based on the totality of circumstances, including consideration of humanitarian interests, to exempt Ukrainian nationals at land border ports of entry from Title 42.”
The guideline states that people who do not have a citizenship “who are in possession of a valid Ukrainian passport” belong to this category of people who are trying to enter a non-Ukrainian territory as a refugee.
However, it's different for Russians who have been spotted near the Mexican/U.S. border, as per the Associated Press (AP) report:
A total of three dozen asylum applicants from Russia were denied admission to the U.S. on Friday while several Ukrainians displayed passports and were taken through the U.S. border.
The incident reflected a subtle but evident shift in the different policies between Russians as well as Ukrainians who travel to Mexico as tourists. They then fly to Tijuana in hopes of gaining entry into the U.S. for a chance to apply for asylum.
Erika Pinheiro, Director of litigation and policy for the advocacy group, Al Otro Lado, said the U.S. began admitting all Ukrainians with humanitarian paroles for a year on Tuesday, but in the meantime, it was blocking all Russians. There was no formal announcement.
AP stated that, even prior to that Russian intervention, CBP statistics show the increasing number of Ukrainians trying to get into the U.S., was more than 1,500 between September and February of this year, compared to 45 people who entered during the same time last year.
This flow of Ukrainian and Russian immigrants looking for asylum in the U.S. is also complicated due to the fact that those leaving their homelands must settle in the first secure country they visit.