No sooner did Vladimir land on this continent, along with his wife and five young children, that bad news came from home in Ukraine: one of his brothers had died in the war. Soon thereafter, while at the Mexico City hub run by Nova Ukraine and other volunteer organizations, the tragedy became a double whammy: his other brother gave his life for his country as well. Weighed down by grief, Vladimir continued his journey in the new world. He applied for humanitarian parole to enter the United States and was soon approved. But Vladimir did not have enough money to fly his large family to the United States. That’s where Nova Ukraine volunteers came in, raising money to pay for their ticket. Today, Vladimir and his family are getting settled in Sacramento, California.
Every Ukrainian family in Mexico City has a harrowing tale of escaping the war before seeking safe passage to the United States. Most of them arrived in Mexico before the border crossing in Tijuana was closed. Once the Uniting for Ukraine program was rolled out, however, Ukrainians in Mexico had to apply for humanitarian parole in Mexico City and wait there while the application was processed instead of being able to cross the border on foot.
“The uncertainty of this entire process is the hardest part for the refugees,” says Nadia Rosen, a Nova Ukraine volunteer who flew to Mexico City with her husband to help at the hub. Most of the families who got stuck after the new process was rolled out had no means to fly back to Europe to wait for the authorization to come through. Their only place to stay was the makeshift camp run by volunteers on a dusty field in Mexico’s capital.
At the Mexico City hub, refugees slept in large tents, with as many as 40 residents in each tent. They endured the bitter cold nights and hot Mexican days. They have few if any personal belongings and little or no money to support themselves. But these refugees consider these conditions a very small price to pay to bring their children to safety.
Thanks to your donations, Nova Ukraine volunteers have been supplying their needs — everything from purchasing basic necessities to resettling them in the United States. Volunteers help them apply for humanitarian parole, sponsor webinars with legal advice, help them find sponsors, and pay for their tickets to the United States if they have no other means to travel.
On June 1, however, the camp in Mexico City will be closed, its mission largely accomplished. At its peak, the camp housed 600 Ukrainian refugees. Now there’s only a trickle, with about 72 people left as of last week. Most Ukrainian refugees have been processed and allowed to enter the United States. Nova Ukraine is assisting the few remaining families as best they can. When the camp closes, the remaining camp residents will be relocated to Airbnb lodging for continued processing.
Our volunteers also help the refugees once they arrive in the United States. Rosen is organizing a resettlement initiative in the United States to help people start their new lives. “Right now Ukrainians are not being helped by resettlement agencies,” she explains. “Because Ukrainians don’t have official refugee status, the agencies are unable to help them.”
Your donations provide housing, support, and start up funds for refugees arriving in the United States.