Ukrainians at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Seeking Admission at U.S. Ports of Entry by Nationality
(17 May 2022) Last month in April a total of 20,994 Ukrainians seeking safety from the war ravaging their homeland turned up at U.S. ports of entry and were stopped at the border as "inadmissibles" without the necessary official documents which might authorize their entry into the U.S. Arrivals from Ukraine averaged 700 per day during April. This includes individuals allowed into the country on humanitarian parole. The majority (60%) arrived in family groups with children. Just over 100 children arrived as unaccompanied minors. The remainder arrived as single adults or as couples without children.

This report is based on person-by-person government records covering April 2022 detailing how port authorities ultimately decided whether to admit or expel individuals, and compares Ukrainians versus non-Ukrainians who were stopped as "inadmissible" when arriving via land, sea or air. These detailed records were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, and analyzed by TRAC.

This surge of Ukrainians last month made up nearly four out of every ten individuals CBP port authorities flagged as inadmissible and stopped at the border. Most Ukrainian refugees sought entry into the United States via Mexico. And along the Mexican border, most sought entry at San Diego. Indeed, some 19,016 out of 20,994 Ukrainians, or over 90 percent, sought entry through ports of entry under the San Diego CBP port authority.

A much smaller number—only 1,337—sought entry in ports administered by Texas CBP port authorities in Laredo, Houston, and El Paso. Buffalo, New York, and Seattle, Washington, were the port authorities along the northern border that had the largest number of Ukrainian arrivals, but arrivals were relatively few.

After Ukraine, the other nationalities in the top five were Mexico (9%), Philippines (8%), Canada (8%) and India (6%). Russia was in sixth place with five percent. No other country reached as high as five percent. For example, Guatemala and El Salvador each made up only one percent of inadmissibles.

Decisions made by CBP port authorities on the treatment accorded each inadmissible differed markedly for Ukrainians as compared with other nationalities. Fully 95 percent of Ukrainians while not formally admitted were "paroled" and allowed to enter and temporarily remain in the U.S. This discretionary authority is provided under immigration law to allow individuals to enter the U.S. for humanitarian and other purpose when individuals lack visas or other required entry documents.

In contrast, for non-Ukrainians, just 11 percent – compared to 95 percent of Ukrainians – were "paroled" and allowed to enter and temporarily remain in the U.S.

Asylums claims were reported by CBP for only one percent of Ukrainians. For non-Ukrainians, roughly one in five individuals were seeking asylum and reported a credible fear of persecution if returned to their home countries. These individuals were generally issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) in Immigration Court by port officials. About four out of ten issued an NTA were not released but were recorded as turned over to ICE for custody.

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