Ukrainian refugees hoping to cross border hit roadblocks from Title 42

SAN DIEGO — As millions of Ukrainians flee their country, many are trying to enter the United States via Mexico.

Blaine Bookey just returned from Tijuana, where she helped a Ukrainian mother and child cross the United States-Mexico border after she was turned away twice due to a Trump presidency-era policy known as Title 42.

“Our client did try to enter in a car first,” Bookey told FOX 5 Tuesday. “They attempted to drive and were turned away under Title 42, so she tried the following day on foot to try to gain entry and was turned away again and that’s when I found her.”

She found her crying near the border. Bookey was there to help another asylum seeker from Haiti who was also turned away due to Title 42 restrictions, which were put into place with no exceptions during the early days of the pandemic as a public health response to COVID-19.

“They didn’t have time to obtain a visa given the necessary circumstances, the urgent circumstances of their flight,” Bookey said. “So they show up at the border with no documents and under Title 42, everyone is being kept out unless they meet these exceptions.”

The humanitarian exceptions include having young children. This family arrived from Ukraine via Tijuana on Monday and say they encountered many single adult Ukrainians stuck in Mexico as well as those from other countries. 

“There are many other asylum seekers from Haiti, Cameroon, Honduras, El Salvador fleeing very similar violence,” Bookey said.

For many, they are stuck there for the foreseeable future, living in shelters or, for those for without any means, on the streets, and that can be very dangerous.

“There have been thousands of documented cases of migrants being subjected to horrific crimes — rape, murder, extortion all along the border there,” Bookey said.