SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry that had been closed for two years was reopened this morning to allow only Ukrainian immigrants to enter the U.S.
No other migrants or border commuters were given access to the facility.
Volunteers said 50 Ukrainians were being processed and given access north of the border every two hours.
Once they came out of the building, the migrants were met by volunteers like Phil Metzger, head pastor of Calvary San Diego.
Metzger and others could be seen handing out bottles of water, doughnuts and other snacks to the immigrants.
“CBP wanted to make the process smoother and they’re the ones, it was their idea and they made it happen,” said Metzger. “They let us know and here we are.”
Metzger said they were also there to advise the migrants.
“There’s a lot of moving parts to trying to get across, they need 24 hours to figure it out, most of them have families or they have friends, they just need a minute to catch their breath,” he said.
One of the migrants helped by volunteers was Arcam.
“We came to start a new life, start from zero,” he said. “I think for me and my family here, I will build a new house and start a new life and all will be okay.”
Arcam talked about his journey to get to the U.S., saying he and his family started the trek in Moldova once they got out of Ukraine, and then passed through Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and a few other countries before getting to Paris.
He ultimately got to Mexico City earlier this month. Two days ago, Arcam arrived in Tijuana.
On Wednesday morning, after getting a temporary humanitarian visa from the U.S., he found himself in California.
Arcam told Border Report he eventually wants to live in Los Angeles.
“Amazing, imagine, it’s a wonderful country, it’s a wonderful country I’m safe here.”
Earlier this week, Tijuana city officials said they had received 1,200 Ukrainian immigrants and had decided to house them in a shelter.
On Wednesday morning, many of the migrants were bused to the border and began crossing into the U.S.
“What would be a great thing from our perspective is if they could begin the process in Europe, maybe Poland where there are direct flights into the states, that would be a safer pathway for people, a faster pathway,” Metzger said.
Border Report reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection about reopening Ped West for the Ukrainian migrants, but our messages have not been returned.