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Ukrainians escaping violence entering the U.S. at San Ysidro Port of Entry

“I don’t know what to say. I still don't believe this. Thank you for everything. Thank you, America,” said refugee, Kristina.

SAN DIEGO — Ukrainians fleeing the violence in their home country have made their way to San Diego. Many have crossed into the United States border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

After weeks of travel, Ukrainian refugee Kristina arrived in the United States Thursday into the arms of John, her American fiance.

“I don’t know what to say. I still don't believe this. Thank you for everything. Thank you, America,” said Kristina.

John was in Ukraine visiting Kristina, and had returned home just two days before the war began.

Since then, he's been trying to get her to the U.S., initially flying her to Poland, then France, and later Mexico.

“It's been an incredible journey. It's been a wild ride, but we made it,” said John.

Kristina first tried crossing over on Tuesday, but was denied entry due to Title 42, which prevents people from entering the U.S. because of COVID. She came back twice more, until she was finally allowed in.

As for what changed, no one knows for sure, though John says he's grateful.

"We wanna thank Border Patrol for being so kind to us today, and we want to thank the U.S. government for understanding the situation and welcoming the refugees."

CBS 8 spoke with another family who crossed over at the San Ysidro Port of Entry Thursday. That family traveled with their five kids.

Natalie Moorse, who is from Ukraine, is now a San Diego based attorney helping the family.

She says like Kristina, they applied for a classification known as ‘humanitarian parole,’ but says there's no consistency as to who's being let is versus who isn’t.

"It was incredibly stressful and we didn't know if they would be able to come in. Right now, there are limited ways for Ukrainian families to apply to get into the U.S., said Moorse."

Customs and Border Protection have not responded to requests from CBS 8 for comment.

But, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Thursday that Customs and Border protection will handle asylum claims by Ukrainian and Russian nationals at the U.S-Mexico border on a case-by-case basis.

WATCH RELATED: Escondido man on the ground near Ukraine's border helping as Russian invasion rages on (March 2022).


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