Russian military-age men escaping Vladimir Putin’s mobilization order are joining a growing queue of migrants assembling on the southern border in Mexico, waiting to cross into the US to ask for asylum.
When the Russian president announced a partial draft in September, seeking to call up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of men fled the country to avoid being shipped off to the frontline.
While many of the objectors escaped to neighboring European countries, thousands of Russians ended up traveling to Mexico in a bid to enter the US.
Data made available by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) indicated that agents have encountered more than 31,600 Russians crossing the southern border to seek political asylum since the outbreak of the war in February.
In November alone, CBP officers came across more than 5,500 Russian migrants.
By comparison, for the entire Fiscal Year 2021, CBP logged only about 4,100 encounters with Russian asylum seekers.
A 24-year-old Russian migrant named Igor, whom NewsNation reporters recently met at a border crossing in Arizona, conveyed his gratitude to President Biden “for this big opportunity [to] receive political asylum in United States.”
“Thank you Joseph Biden for this great opportunity. God bless you. God bless USA,” he said in broken English.
Another man traveling from the Khabarovsk region of Russia told the outlet that he, too, was seeking political asylum.
“In our country is a bad situation, not only for war, [but also] politically, religiously,” said the migrant, who identified himself as Jasur and described himself as a Russian Muslim.
Jasur said he stayed in Tijuana, Mexico, for about a week but did not wish to linger there any longer, citing the proliferation of drug cartels and official corruption. He told the outlet that he took an Uber to reach the US border.
Due to confusion surrounding the anticipated end of Title 42, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement Tuesday stressing that contrary to what smugglers might tell desperate and vulnerable migrants, “the border is not open.”
The pandemic-era public health policy that was enacted under then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 has allowed immigration officials to turn away millions of asylum seekers — primarily from South and Central America — at the border on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID.
In November, a judge ordered that the asylum limits be lifted on Dec. 21, but the US Supreme Court ruled this week to extend Title 42 through at least February, when it is scheduled to hear a legal challenge brought by 19 Republican-led states.