Russian and Ukrainian nationals are increasingly arriving at the United States-Mexico border in the hopes of being released into the nation’s interior, newly released data shows. As Republican and Democrat lawmakers focus their attention on the borders of Ukraine amidst Russia’s invasion, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data reveals that a growing number of Russians and Ukrainians are using the southern border to get released into the U.S. interior.
U.S. border officials encountered about 6,400 Russians in the four months between October 2021 and January of this year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data show. That’s more than the roughly 4,100 apprehended during the entire 2021 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. The jump is similar for Ukrainians, with a little more than 1,000 apprehended since October 2021 through January, compared to about 680 for all of the last fiscal year.
Yet almost all the Russians and Ukrainians have been allowed to remain while they pursue asylum claims, and their presence has been notable at border-area shelters aimed at helping newcomers. [Emphasis added] Last week, Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) said during congressional testimony that he witnessed a number of Russian and Ukrainian border crossers arriving via car at the San Ysidro, California Port of Entry (POE) when he visited the region in February. In one instance, Correa said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials noted that 20 vehicles had recently been pulled over by Border Patrol at the POE — all packed with Russian and Ukrainian nationals. The data comes as many Republicans and Democrats urge President Joe Biden to further involve the U.S. in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, even as 72 percent of Americans said the U.S. should play only a “minor role” or “no role at all,” including 76 percent of Republicans.