Russian families who fled their country at a time when it is waging war against Ukraine are living in a makeshift camp in the Mexican city of Tijuana, on the border with the United States, waiting for the latter to grant them asylum.
With children and older adults, they settled on one side of the San Ysidro Garita pedestrian crossing, which connects Tijuana, in Baja California (northwest), with the US city of San Diego. They use their suitcases to define the space corresponding to each family.
They do not have access to their bank accounts due to international sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, and the cash they brought in is running out.
– ‘We can’t go back to Russia’ –
Some 35 in total, according to the local government, say they have arrived by plane and that they must wait for the US authorities to process their entry, like the rest of the migrants, mostly from Central America.
However, US officials immediately give way to the Ukrainians.
“They (the American agents) say that they can only tell us to wait, that for now they can’t let us in, and that maybe they won’t be able to let us in,” 27-year-old Russian Anton told AFP. travels with his wife.
“It seems that we are in a kind of limbo that cannot be resolved for now,” added this young man, who spoke in English, and expressed impotence over the arrests suffered by his fellow citizens for protesting against his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We cannot go back to Russia. We are in a desperate situation, in a potentially terrible economic situation because we cannot have any stable source of income from Russia due to sanctions,” he declared.
– “A better future” –
Irina Zolkina, 40, fled Russia with her children aged 18, 10 and 3. She left Moscow on March 3 for Uzbekistan, from where she took a flight to Cancún, Yucatán, in eastern Mexico, where she says she arrived on March 14.
He arrived in Tijuana three days later, and since then he has been sleeping on the floor with his children, whom he does not lose sight of because of the crime that this region suffers due to drug trafficking.
“Yes, we are worried being here, but it is a risk that we take to try to go to the United States and offer a better future to our children,” he says.
The local government plans to “take them to a safe place,” probably to migrant shelters, said Tijuana Public Security Secretary Fernando Sánchez.