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Teenage Ukrainian refugee expected to fly to New York

"Lyza asked me to tell her mom, her parents and her sister that she loves them and she's safe," Surazhsky said.

SAN DIEGO — A teenage girl who traveled to San Diego from Ukraine is expected to be flown to New York on Saturday, while remaining in custody of federal officers.

Yelyzaveta "Lyza" Krasulia, 17, entered the United States on Wednesday at the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing with a family friend, who is a U.S. citizen.

The U.S. citizen, Molly Surazhsky, said Friday the girl had been moved from a Customs and Border Protection holding cell in San Ysidro to another facility, and she will be flown to New York.

"They told me that Lyza has been removed from San Ysidro CBP and tomorrow she'll be flown to a New York shelter," Surazhsky said.

"Lyza asked me to tell her mom, her parents and her sister that she loves them and she's safe," Surazhsky said. 

Surazhsky said she was carrying a notarized letter from the teen’s mother allowing her to cross the border with the minor.

When they crossed, Surazhsky was allowed into the country, but the girl was taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection officers as an unaccompanied minor.

“The border patrol separated us. They said that they would not accept that document because Liza doesn't have parents or relatives with her,” said Surazhsky.

It can take months or years to get approval to enter the United States as a refugee, so Ukrainians, most of them carrying valid Ukrainian passports, are lining up at the San Ysidro border crossing with the hope of entering the United States under temporary humanitarian parole.

“I don’t know if it's the Biden administration or just immigration policies of the U.S. in general, but they are just not allowing Ukrainian refugees into the States right now.  This the only border that is open for Ukrainian refugees,” said Surazhsky.

The teenager’s mother is stuck in Poland with the girl’s best friend. The father remains in Ukraine because men are not allowed to leave the country.

CBS 8 has called and emailedgovernment agencies to see if they could assist, but the teen remained in custody.

“She called and said she's being treated inhumanely, that she's being treated like a prisoner not a refugee of war.  She is in a cell with no windows with 25 other refugees who she said were also minors or mothers with their children,” said Surazhsky.

Surazhsky lives in New York and had been staying with a friend in Riverside. She now plans to travel to New York to meet the teenager, once she gets released.

Family and friends are still working to get Krasulia’s mother and best friend out of Poland.

Editor's note:  This report has been updated from its original version.

WATCH RELATED: Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees waiting in long lines at San Ysidro Port of Entry (April 2022).


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