‘Russian Invasion’ at the US-Mexico Border – Seeking Asylum or “Taking Advantage of Us Generosity?”

New evidence suggests more and more Russians and Ukrainians are fleeing to New York, with some officials claiming that immigrants are taking advantage of the generous immigration policy in the city under Biden’s control.

Mass Migration 

Amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, a mass migration of citizens from both countries is flooding into the United States, say city officials, immigration experts, and lawmakers.

A significant number of Russians have arrived at the US-Mexico border, hoping to secure Asylum. Many of them have ended up in New York City, which boasts the largest Russian-speaking immigrant population, including Jewish refugees.

Mayoral spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak confirmed a notable increase in the number of Russians and Ukrainians seeking Asylum in New York City since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

The city has been welcoming these individuals and families, much like the 110,000 asylum seekers who have sought refuge in the city since spring 2022.

Ukrainian Migrant Data Separated 

Russian nationals rank as the city’s sixth largest group of asylum seekers, comprising 3% of the total. According to the mayor’s office, they follow countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Mauritania in Africa.

Ukrainians seeking Asylum are tracked separately through the federal government’s Uniting for Ukraine parole program, which is not included in the city’s origin data. 

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization advocating stricter border policies, noted that Russians are joining others at the Mexican-US border seeking Asylum and mentioned that Russians don’t necessarily have the right to immigrate.

Krikorian stressed that conscription is not a basis for Asylum, raising concerns that many Russians in the US are doing so illegally. He suggested that the surge in Russian asylum seekers might be driven by the desire to “Strike while the iron is hot.”

Russians Wanting to Escape the Conflict

Krikorian acknowledged that the war in Ukraine has significantly driven Russians to seek Asylum in the US.

Recently, six Russian families were reported to be staying at a migrant shelter in New York City, specifically the Paul Hotel on West 29th Street. The hotel was converted into a shelter to accommodate migrants.

Leila Usmanov, one of the asylum seekers, stated, “We came here to avoid mobilization for the war,” emphasizing the desire to avoid fighting against fellow Ukrainians and Russians.

Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, representing Russian-speaking communities in southern Brooklyn, expressed no surprise at the increase in asylum seekers from Russia and Ukraine. She noted that the US asylum laws were designed for situations like the current crisis.

“Taking Advantage”

Vernikov raised concerns about individuals taking advantage of the asylum system under the current open-border policies, “There is a horrific war going on in the region and our asylum laws were in fact designed specifically for these situations. Unfortunately, under [President] Biden’s open border we’ve had people taking advantage of our `generosity’ and claiming Asylum where no legitimate claims exist.”

Councilman Ari Kagan, a Belarus native and former Jewish refugee, pointed out that many Russian migrants are against Putin and the war. He emphasized that some are trying to avoid the draft, while others see America, particularly New York, as an opportunity to improve their quality of life and economic prospects.

Kagan expressed sympathy for Russian migrants but stressed the importance of legal immigration, particularly as New York City already faces overwhelming numbers of migrants.

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