While Ukrainians are currently being returned to Mexico, human rights activists have denounced that European migrants receive a "preferential treatment" from U.S. authorities.
On Monday, hundreds of Ukrainians began to be returned to Mexico at the San Ysidro entry port in California to process their asylum request online through the "United for Ukraine" (U4U) program.
Last week, President Joe Biden's administration announced it will allow Ukrainians to apply for two-year admission to the United States through an electronic system, which will allow them to arrive directly into the country by air and without having to go to the Mexican border.
Such announcement, however, caught hundreds of Ukrainians, who had already moved to the U.S. border, by surprise. While they are currently being returned to Mexico, human rights activists have denounced that European asylum seekers receive a "preferential treatment" from U.S. authorities.
“For Black migrants, the door has been closed. Only deportations and mistreatment,” said Tania Calvillo, a Mexican woman who ironized the situation by saying that migrants have to dye their hair blonde so as not to be “invisible” in the eyes of U.S. authorities.
According to statistics released by the US Customs and Border Protection, attempts to illegally enter the #US surged fivefold in March in comparison with February statistics, when just over 1,100 #Ukrainians were detained on the US border.#Ukraine pic.twitter.com/JWDclTmOEE— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) April 20, 2022
The Trump's era "Title 42" expeditiously returns Latin American and African migrants at the border, arguing the possible risk of COVID-19 contagion. However, Ukrainians have been exempted from this controversial policy "due to humanitarian reasons," according to a memo issued on March 11 by Matthew Davis, the director of field operations of the Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP).
The treatment accorded to Ukrainians is evidence of the inherent racism in the U.S. immigration policy, which determines who deserves help based on skin color and country of origin. "It determines whose life is valued above that of others," said Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Services Committee's border project.
Some 18,000 Ukrainians have crossed through San Ysidro in search of asylum since March 14, according to CBP data.