SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Starting Monday, the Department of Homeland Security will launch the United 4 Ukraine program (U4K), which will allow Ukrainian war refugees to seek asylum in Europe.
They will not be able to walk through ports of entry like they’ve been doing for weeks from cities such as Tijuana just south of San Diego.
While in Europe, they will be given humanitarian visas for two years, but will have to return to Ukraine when the term expires.
According to the program guidelines, Ukrainians who can prove their vaccinations are up-to-date and have sponsors, family or friends in the United States will be granted visas and flown directly into the U.S.
There won’t be a need to travel through Mexico, something thousands have done over the last several weeks.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many have chosen to fly from Europe to Mexico City and then to Tijuana.
Here, volunteers have been guiding and arranging for Ukrainian migrants to stay at a city shelter before crossing into California through a pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
According to Tijuana officials, about 12,000 Ukrainians have chosen this route.
And overall, they say 20,000 Ukrainians have found their way into the U.S. from Mexico.
“The last Ukrainian nationals will be able to cross by foot on the 24th of April,” said an unidentified female volunteer who works with the migrants at the Tijuana shelter. She spoke during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“The new program announced by the White House, United for Ukraine, will be open to individuals in Europe,” she said.
Ukrainians are being advised to stay in Europe, but for those already in transit, the advice is to stay in Mexico City and not travel to the border.
“If you have the ability to cancel your travel plans into Mexico from Europe we strongly recommend you do so, do not travel to Mexico,” said the volunteer.
As for those already in Tijuana at the shelter, the shelter will stay open until early next month to take care of those who arrive in the coming weeks.
“We’ll be here till May 5th to make sure everyone who comes after April 25th, they will be in a safe place, and we’re going to help them with transfer to Mexico City.”
After 12 p.m. on Monday, Ukrainians who show up at border crossings without visas will not be allowed access into the U.S. and will be turned away.
According to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, “there will be no advantage or faster process for those transiting via Mexico.”