Russian men of military age fleeing Vladimir Putin’s mobilization order join a growing line of migrants gathering at Mexico’s southern border, waiting to cross into the United States to seek asylum.
When the Russian president announced partial conscription in September, seeking to call up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands fled the country to avoid being sent to the front lines.
While many opponents fled to neighboring European countries, thousands of Russians eventually made their way to Mexico with the aim of entering the United States.
Data made available by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) indicated that officers have encountered more than 31,600 Russians crossing the southern border to seek political asylum since the outbreak of war in February.
In November alone, CBP officers encountered more than 5,500 Russian migrants.
By comparison, for all of fiscal year 2021, CBP only recorded 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, expressed his gratitude to President Biden “for this great opportunity [to] receive political asylum in the United States.
“Thank you Joseph Biden for this great opportunity. God bless you. God bless the United States,” 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 the war, [but also] politically, religiously,” said the migrant, who identified 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 stay 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 planned end of Title 42, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement on 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 signed into law under then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 allowed immigration officials to turn away millions of asylum seekers – mostly from South and Central America – on the border on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID.
In November, a judge ordered asylum limits to be lifted on December 21, but the US Supreme Court ruled this week to extend Title 42 until at least February, when it is scheduled to be released. hear a legal challenge brought by 19 Republican-led states.