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Title 42 affecting Ukrainians at the southern border, SD immigration lawyers call to end it

Title 42, a Trump era policy, says immigrants should be turned away at the border to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now, Ukrainians are being turned away.

TIJUANA, Baja California — For more than a year, the Biden Administration has quickly expelled migrants at the southern border under Title 42 despite repeated calls from immigration advocates and lawyers to end it. 

Those calls have grown louder this week as Ukrainians begin to arrive. 

Title 42 was put into place for COVID-19 restrictions. The Biden Administration has kept the Trump era policy in place and defended it in court as a necessity to prevent the spread.

However, as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, immigration lawyers in San Diego argue the policy is no longer needed and only contributes to the inhumane treatment happening at the border.

“This is actually an inhumane policy and people are calling to cancel it and it's not safe for families who are fleeing their country and are trying to look for peace,” said Immigration Lawyer Jacob Sapochnick. 

Now with Russian and Ukrainian families fleeing the invasion and coming to the border, the situation has worsened. 

Sapochnick has been helping Ukrainian families and says the U.S. Border Patrol agents are taking advantage of the policy and turning families away. 

“The moment they reach the U.S. soil and they say they are here for asylum, they can’t send them back," said Sapochnick. "They have to actually process them and go through the critical interview. However, they are just sending them back and they are not supposed to do that," 

CBS 8 spoke with Tijuana journalists who said, they’ve witnessed dozens of Ukrainian and Russian families gathering outside the border. 

According to families in Tijuana, CBP agents are being selective of who they let in and sometimes not letting Russian or Central Americans in at all.

“Even people with humanitarian parole, it would take a long time for them to get a waiver. Some are allowed to get in, but not others,” said Vicente Calderon, who is the editor for Tijuanapress.com

Even workers crossing the border everyday, say Tijuana is saturated with families coming from every part of the world. Which is making it hard for them to cross the border and get to work. 

The pressure is now being put on the Biden Administration, but has only ended the policy for children crossing the border without their parents. 

CBS 8 also reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, questioning why some cases have been expedited and allowed in, but they have yet to respond. 

WATCH RELATED: San Diego company and local Ukrainian join efforts to help civilians fight back against Russia (March 2022)

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