(Video: Fox News)
As a refugee crisis grows in eastern Europe as the Russian invasion of Ukraine displaces hundreds of thousands of people, Ukrainians and Russians alike have flocked to the United States southern border seeking asylum.
Former acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli joined “Fox & Friends Weekend” where he discussed the possibility these asylum-seekers were looking for an opportunity to game the immigration system weakened by President Joe Biden’s administration and its failures to address border security.
Rachel Campos-Duffy prefaced the conversation by stating that Ukrainians were being allowed to cross into the U.S. but Russian asylum-seekers were being forced to remain in Mexico. Cuccinelli agreed that part of the draw to the U.S. was in Russians desire to leave Russia and because they are aware of the current porous nature of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“When you see the asylum claims coming out of this population,” Cuccinelli said, “there is downright fear among Russians of their own government.” Beyond the immigration concerns that these people could be looking to take advantage of favorable programs in the U.S., he suggested a political benefit to providing safe haven, particularly for the Russians.
“We can tell their story to undermine Putin in the eyes of the world,” Cuccinelli pointed out before returning to the broader concern of the open border.
Citing examples of Venezuelans doing this before Mexico had clamped down on the behavior, Cuccinelli described how common this behavior is throughout the Western Hemisphere to fly to Mexico and walk across the border to enter the United States.
The addition of European asylum-seekers has only compounded issues for the strained U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency that is facing a wave of an estimated 170,000 migrants currently attempting to enter the country. Cuccinelli touched on the fact that CBP is asking for volunteers, not to get agents back to protecting the border, but to expedite the catch and release program.
“They’re embarrassed about the possibility of you all in the media broadcasting pictures of their overcrowded facilities especially, of course, when they have children in them,” Cuccinelli explained.
Though Campos-Duffy had suggested seeking asylum was rather cut-and-dry for Ukrainians, it has been reported that only those already in the U.S. have been granted Temporary Protected Status. U.S. border officials have turned away Ukrainians like a 34-year-old mother named Sofiia who fled to Romania by car from Ukraine with her three children.
From there they flew to Mexico only to be told to turn back. “We left our lives, our jobs, our families and houses in Ukraine just to escape from this horrible war,” Sofiia said.
Since that incident was reported, CBP issued a memo instructing their agents to use discretion when exempting individuals from Title 42 restrictions. Title 42 restrictions were put in place by President Trump at the onset of the COVID pandemic in an attempt to help prevent the spread of the virus into the country.
Biden has never removed those restrictions, but he added exemptions including for unaccompanied children. Compared to Feb 2021 that saw 19 encounters with Ukrainians at the southern border, CBP accounted for 272 in Feb 2022. The Temporary Protected Status had not been initiated until after the CBP memo on exemptions further demonstrating the mishandling of the border crisis even among legitimate political refugees.
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