‘We didn’t want to leave’: Hundreds of Ukrainians arrive at US border

Recently, Tijuana opened a sports complex, Benito Juárez, for Ukrainian refugees, which in 2018 served to house thousands of Central American immigrants who arrived in caravans hoping to enter the United States.

Krasnykh and his team negotiated shelter at the facility with Baja California officials, who within hours provided them with mats, Wi-Fi and security. Volunteers outside prepared hot meals, such as beetroot soup, and distributed donated clothes and toys.

Volunteers started a numbered list, initially on a yellow legal board and later translated into an online version with the help of software engineers, to organize applicants to enter the United States.

We are starting to see chaos. “People were mad at each other,” said Roman Dubchak, a volunteer from Westfield, Massachusetts, who handles the recording. “It soon became clear that we had to create some kind of order,” said Dubchak, who like other volunteers wore a reflective vest and a blue and yellow armband in the colors of Ukraine.

By Tuesday afternoon, the number of families on the list had passed 2,000. The refugees were instructed to monitor a letterbox, where they would be notified when it was time to collect their belongings and report one of three tents near the port of entry.

Anastasia and Sergey Derezenko’s family had the number 1767. They traveled with their two children, Denis, 10, and Yeva, 8, as well as their furry mini Malta, Luca. They left their apartment on the outskirts of Kyiv under Russian bombardment and eventually crossed Europe by train to catch a flight from Madrid to Mexico City, where they called Tijuana. Their friends are waiting for them in Portland, Oregon.

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