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Thousands of Ukrainians made desperate efforts to enter the US as a White House ban on border crossings came into place.

There were chaotic scenes around the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing in Tijuana, Mexico last night as migrants rushed to cross the border before it closed at 9pm local time.

Up to 6,000 foreign nationals amassed as the deadline neared, the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) said.

One group of fifty refugees unable to make the crossing before midnight were taken to shelter in a local church used as an emergency shelter. With the ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ policy announced on Thursday, many who had already made travel plans are now stranded in Mexico.

At midnight DC time Sunday, the Biden administration reintroduced the Title 42 health order for Ukrainian refugees, halting entries to the US without prior application.

The final buses carrying refugees arrived at the border just after 8pm, driven by volunteers and with the cooperation of local border officials. One hour later, Biden’s ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ policy came into effect and the foot crossing was closed.

The new initiative plans to sanction 100,000 Ukrainian arrivals over the coming months. But crucially, it ends Ukrainian refugees’ exemption from Title 42, President Trump’s controversial border policy banning all entries to the United States by foot.

First introduced as a public health measure, Title 42 was intended to contain the spread of Covid by restricting arrivals from outside the US.

Around 15,000 undocumented Ukrainians have so far entered the US since the start of the Russian invasion two months ago, the DHS added.

Most have entered the US via border crossings at Tijuana, near San Diego, and Reynosa, near Hidalgo, Texas. 

Desperate refugees from Ukraine argued with Mexican officials on the Tijuana border in the run-up to the midnight deadline

Desperate refugees from Ukraine argued with Mexican officials on the Tijuana border in the run-up to the midnight deadline

Desperate refugees from Ukraine argued with Mexican officials on the Tijuana border in the run-up to the midnight deadline

A young boy waits while his family seek entry to the US as the April 25 cut-off neared. Title 42, which prevents foot crossings over the border on the grounds of public health, came into place for Ukrainian refugees at 9pm Tijuana time.

A young boy waits while his family seek entry to the US as the April 25 cut-off neared. Title 42, which prevents foot crossings over the border on the grounds of public health, came into place for Ukrainian refugees at 9pm Tijuana time.

A young boy waits while his family seek entry to the US as the April 25 cut-off neared. Title 42, which prevents foot crossings over the border on the grounds of public health, came into place for Ukrainian refugees at 9pm Tijuana time. 

Nervous refugees, many with children, approached the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing late on Sunday, April 24. Some who were turned away by Homeland Security officers were taken for immediate processing in the hope of an overnight crossing

Nervous refugees, many with children, approached the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing late on Sunday, April 24. Some who were turned away by Homeland Security officers were taken for immediate processing in the hope of an overnight crossing

Nervous refugees, many with children, approached the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing late on Sunday, April 24. Some who were turned away by Homeland Security officers were taken for immediate processing in the hope of an overnight crossing

Many of the estimated 6,000 foreign nationals who approached the Tijuana border crossing last night were Ukrainian refugees wielding their nation's flag

Many of the estimated 6,000 foreign nationals who approached the Tijuana border crossing last night were Ukrainian refugees wielding their nation's flag

Many of the estimated 6,000 foreign nationals who approached the Tijuana border crossing last night were Ukrainian refugees wielding their nation’s flag

Hundreds of young children accompanied parents at the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing (pictured) as the deadline neared

Hundreds of young children accompanied parents at the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing (pictured) as the deadline neared

Hundreds of young children accompanied parents at the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing (pictured) as the deadline neared

The same family react to news late last night that they would not be accepted into the US before Monday as Title 42 returned

The same family react to news late last night that they would not be accepted into the US before Monday as Title 42 returned

The same family react to news late last night that they would not be accepted into the US before Monday as Title 42 returned

Refugee Eleanor, 12, from Odessa, Ukraine cries as her family pleads to cross the border. One volunteer in Tijuana told DailyMail.com Sunday: 'There's going to be a lot of crying and sad faces, because many people won't cross.'

Refugee Eleanor, 12, from Odessa, Ukraine cries as her family pleads to cross the border. One volunteer in Tijuana told DailyMail.com Sunday: 'There's going to be a lot of crying and sad faces, because many people won't cross.'

Refugee Eleanor, 12, from Odessa, Ukraine cries as her family pleads to cross the border. One volunteer in Tijuana told DailyMail.com Sunday: ‘There’s going to be a lot of crying and sad faces, because many people won’t cross.’

Eleanor rests on a makeshift bed with her suitcase and a neck pillow and she awaits news of a potential US border crossing

Eleanor rests on a makeshift bed with her suitcase and a neck pillow and she awaits news of a potential US border crossing

Eleanor rests on a makeshift bed with her suitcase and a neck pillow and she awaits news of a potential US border crossing

The total number of refugees who have fled Ukraine over the last two months is over five million, the UN reported.

Volunteers in Tijuana had told DailyMail.com earlier Sunday: ‘There’s going to be a lot of crying and sad faces, because many people won’t cross.’

Co-Founder of United For Ukraine Anastasia Bolo told DailyMail.com that the last bus for the border will leave at 8pm, and that refugees flying into the city later in the day will likely end up stuck in Mexico.

Refugee transport buses took Ukrainian migrants from Tijuana International Airport to the pedestrian border crossing

Refugee transport buses took Ukrainian migrants from Tijuana International Airport to the pedestrian border crossing

Refugee transport buses took Ukrainian migrants from Tijuana International Airport to the pedestrian border crossing

This Ukrainian family, who stood in line with foreign nationals, had hoped to cross into the US before online applications and a US-based sponsorship requirement came into place

This Ukrainian family, who stood in line with foreign nationals, had hoped to cross into the US before online applications and a US-based sponsorship requirement came into place

This Ukrainian family, who stood in line with foreign nationals, had hoped to cross into the US before online applications and a US-based sponsorship requirement came into place

Concerned refugee families deliberate as they consider their options in front of a sign which reads 'USA'

Concerned refugee families deliberate as they consider their options in front of a sign which reads 'USA'

Concerned refugee families deliberate as they consider their options in front of a sign which reads ‘USA’

Buses shipped refugees from Tijuana International Airport to the San Ysidro border crossing as the 9pm local time halt neared

Buses shipped refugees from Tijuana International Airport to the San Ysidro border crossing as the 9pm local time halt neared

Buses shipped refugees from Tijuana International Airport to the San Ysidro border crossing as the 9pm local time halt neared

‘Of course everybody is upset because people bought tickets in advance,’ she said.

Biden will lift Title 42 on May 23, legalizing foot crossings to the US once again.

But 21 states including Arizona, Florida and Ohio are suing the federal government with the hope of extending Title 42.

Mothers carry bags and watch their young children as they waited for news at the San Ysidro border late Sunday night, Apr. 24

Mothers carry bags and watch their young children as they waited for news at the San Ysidro border late Sunday night, Apr. 24

Mothers carry bags and watch their young children as they waited for news at the San Ysidro border late Sunday night, Apr. 24

A Mexican border police officer spoke to colleagues as he stood by a volunteer bus taking refugees to the border crossing

A Mexican border police officer spoke to colleagues as he stood by a volunteer bus taking refugees to the border crossing

A Mexican border police officer spoke to colleagues as he stood by a volunteer bus taking refugees to the border crossing

A pair of small children pose with a Ukraine flag as they hope for border officials' generosity at the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing

A pair of small children pose with a Ukraine flag as they hope for border officials' generosity at the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing

A pair of small children pose with a Ukraine flag as they hope for border officials’ generosity at the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing

They claim an end to the policy at this time is ‘reckless’. 

What is Title 42?

Title 42 was enacted by President Trump in March 2020 as Covid surged.

Named after a 1944 health law, the policy allows border patrol agents to deny entry to migrants without considering their asylum claims if they have been in a country with a communicable disease, such as Covid.

It has been used more than 1.7million times during Trump and Biden’s presidencies, with its continuation under Biden infuriating left-wing Democrats.

Though the vast majority of refusals have taken place at foot crossings on the southern border with Mexico, expulsions of plane and boat migrants have also occurred.

The policy was again lambasted by top Democrats when it emerged Ukrainian refugees fleeing their war-torn country were being turned away, despite Biden’s promise to welcome them ‘with open arms’.

Under the new ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ policy which came into place at midnight April 25, Ukrainian refugees’ exemption from Title 42 is over.

The White House plans to integrate 100,000 undocumented Ukrainians over the next few months – but they must apply online and have a US sponsor who can help them financially.

Title 42 is set to lift on May 23. But 21 states are suing the federal government in an attempt to keep it in place and prevent ‘chaos on the border’.

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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said last week: ‘Ending Title 42 would be a disaster and further the chaos at the southwest border that is making it easier for drug cartels and human smugglers to advance their illicit practices in our country.’

Meanwhile Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leading a bipartisan group in the upper house set to propose legislation to prevent Title 42’s lifting.

Since Biden took office, Customs and Border Protection has apprehended more than 2.4 million migrants crossing the southern border.

Some estimates predict that the current 8,000 migrants crossing each day could rise to 18,000 once Title 42 is lifted.

Though the vast majority of refusals have taken place at foot crossings on the southern border with Mexico, expulsions of plane and boat migrants have also occurred. 

Others warned that there are already hundreds of thousands of migrants within days of the border ready to cross once the policy is no longer being enforced.

The temporary health order has been used to deport or turn away with consideration 1.7million migrants since its introduction in March 2020.

Last mosaw a record 221,203 apprehensions by CBP, the highest in decades. It exceeded the previous high of 213,593 in July 2021.

Refugees hoping to gain asylum under ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ must have been in Ukraine as of February 11, have a US-based sponsor family or organization, meet vaccination and other health requirements, and pass government background checks.

Typically, people would start applications in their home country, but that’s no longer possible since the US pulled its diplomats from Ukraine. 

The State Department said it will expand resettlement operations throughout Eastern Europe to compensate.

Most of those admitted will receive two years of residence and authorization to work in the United States under what´s known as humanitarian parole. 

Those coming to the US through the traditional refugee process, including members of religious minority groups, will receive permanent legal residency.

One downside of the new effort is that humanitarian parole generally does not include temporary housing support and other benefits provided through the traditional refugee program.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service president Krish O´Mara Vignarajah said the formal refugee system is slowly recovering from Trump-era cutbacks.

Ms Vignarajah told DailyMail.com that ‘Uniting for Ukraine’ is still a step forward: ‘Families desperately seeking to bring their loved ones directly to safety in the US have a glimmer of hope, where there once was exceedingly little.’

Two young children in matching coats stand anxiously as their parents work to try to enter the United States in Tijuana

Two young children in matching coats stand anxiously as their parents work to try to enter the United States in Tijuana

Two young children in matching coats stand anxiously as their parents work to try to enter the United States in Tijuana

An exhausted mom sits with her child on her lap as she talks with a refugee friend close to the pedestrian border crossing

An exhausted mom sits with her child on her lap as she talks with a refugee friend close to the pedestrian border crossing

An exhausted mom sits with her child on her lap as she talks with a refugee friend close to the pedestrian border crossing 

Since Biden took office, more than 2.4 million migrants were apprehended by CBP. Last month hit a new high with 221,303 encounters in March alone

Since Biden took office, more than 2.4 million migrants were apprehended by CBP. Last month hit a new high with 221,303 encounters in March alone

Since Biden took office, more than 2.4 million migrants were apprehended by CBP. Last month hit a new high with 221,303 encounters in March alone

Announcing the policy, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in a statement: ‘We are proud to deliver on President Biden´s commitment to welcome 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russian aggression to the United States. 

‘The Ukrainian people continue to suffer immense tragedy and loss as a result of Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on their country.’

President Biden said Thursday: ‘This program will be fast, it will be streamlined and it will ensure the United States honors its commitment to go through the people Ukraine and need not go through our southern border.’

A despondent refugee waits on a bus shuttling her from Tijuana International Airport to the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing

A despondent refugee waits on a bus shuttling her from Tijuana International Airport to the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing

A despondent refugee waits on a bus shuttling her from Tijuana International Airport to the San Ysidro pedestrian crossing

Eleanor, 12, consoles her distraught younger brother while his sister (behind him) rests on a backpack with coloured hearts

Eleanor, 12, consoles her distraught younger brother while his sister (behind him) rests on a backpack with coloured hearts

Eleanor, 12, consoles her distraught younger brother while his sister (behind him) rests on a backpack with coloured hearts

One refugee mom remonstrates with officials at the crossing. Mexican and American officials dealt with thousands of claims

One refugee mom remonstrates with officials at the crossing. Mexican and American officials dealt with thousands of claims

One refugee mom remonstrates with officials at the crossing. Mexican and American officials dealt with thousands of claims

Democrat chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez told POLITICO: ‘I will continue to call on the administration to restore full access to our asylum laws at the southern border, where too many Black and Brown migrants in our hemisphere have been denied the opportunity to seek humanitarian protection in the United States.’

Adding to opposition to the White House’s Title 42 suspension plan, border district Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar accused Biden of ‘listening to immigration activists’ more than lawmakers and agents at the border.

He told Fox News today: ‘My question is, who’s listening to the men and women in green and in blue? And more importantly, who’s listening to the border communities, the sheriffs, the landowners, the rest of the people that live on the border?’

Source: dailymail

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