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Latest news on the Ukrainian refugee crisis in Tijuana

Volunteers say more than 1,500 refugees are at our border, with another 500 arriving every day.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — More than 1,500 Ukrainians are reportedly ready to seek asylum at this time near the San Ysidro port of entry.

The volunteers shared with CBS 8 that 500 refugees are arriving every day. Many stayed in a makeshift camp set up at a bus station in Tijuana.

There, children play with bubbles to help pass the time. An office full of meals is stocked at all times, with donations arriving every hour.

There’s even a local lady who gives free massages and a retired nurse from Chula Vista who does what she can to keep people healthy.

“Do you see a lot of dots with the kids?” asked CBS 8 reporter Shannon Handy.

“Yeah. Dehydration, and I think it’s going to get worse with the heat wave coming,” the retired Chula Vista nurse said.

The camp is where many Ukrainian refugees sleep at night as they wait their turn on a growing list of other asylum seekers.

It was organized by a grassroots effort, made up of volunteers, including Inna Levien.

“And it looks like it’s working, and it’s working well,” Levien mentioned. “Yeah. We burst on the seams,”

On Tuesday, Levien said there were nearly 1,500 Ukrainian refugees in Tijuana, with about 500 arriving daily, triple what there was just a week earlier.

While some are housed in resorts or near church buildings, most begin their stay in Tijuana about two miles away at a city-run facility called Benito Juarez, often known as the “The Hub”.

It is a city-owned gymnasium where Ukrainian refugees are taken directly from the airport before taking the immigration course.

Inside, almost every square inch of the house is used. According to volunteers, nearly a thousand people are staying there.

CBS 8 cameras captured volunteers assembling bunk beds to accommodate many more.

Typically, refugees stay at ‘The Hub’ for two nights, then are transferred to the bus stop near the port of entry, where they stay for another evening or two before meeting the immigration officers.

Ukrainians began fleeing to Mexico after the Biden administration announced that up to 100,000 refugees could be allowed in under what is often called humanitarian parole.

Most have left everything behind, making many rounds to get here.

“First of all, we arrived in Romania, we arrive in Budapest. From Budapest we had a plane to Madrid. From Madrid to Mexico City, and from Mexico City here to Tijuana,” said 21-year-old Aliona Darmorost.

Darmorost and his 24-year-old cousin, Bohdana Haikova, left Ukraine last week after a friend in Sacramento offered to put them up.

Their family is there, however, as well as the boys from their home, like Bohdana’s brother, who serves in the army to defend Ukraine.

“Do you see yourself going back to Ukraine anytime soon?” asked CBS 8 reporter Shannon Handy.

“We hope. We hope so because our families are there,” Darmorost mentioned. unfortunate”,

On Wednesday, the bus shelter was closed. The refugees there have since been moved to Ped West, where Border Patrol agents hope to find them more quickly.

The secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security said his division had already sent 600 law enforcement officers to the border and would add more as needed.

WATCH RELATED: Border Patrol begins processing Ukrainian refugees in Tijuana (April 2022)


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