A list of Ukrainian refugees waiting to enter the U.S. is kept on a yellow legal pad on a folding table inside a blue camping tent, a few feet away from the highway that connects Mexico to the U.S. It is written in English and Cyrillic by volunteers, many refugees themselves, waiting for their own numbers to be called. “They said it could be two or three days,” said Valentina Shymanservska, No. 884, a sunflower farmer from outside Kharkiv. By Saturday morning, the list had more than 1,200 names on it. Dozens more Ukrainians were arriving every hour. A van was shuttling them between the Tijuana airport and the tent where the yellow legal pad was kept. “The list,” people began calling it in Tijuana, which required no elaboration, the Washington Pot reports.
The U.S. has committed to accepting as many as 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, but it has yet to establish a way for them to arrive directly. There are no resettlement programs or visa pipelines. That has left Ukrainians to book flights to Mexico. They arrive at the U.S. border on foot, many pushing kids in strollers and dragging suitcases behind them. On social media platforms and messaging apps, groups explain the process in the Ukrainian language: From major European cities, fly to either Cancún or Mexico City. Ukrainians don’t need visas to enter the country. From there, take another flight to Tijuana. In a small encampment about 1,000 feet from the U.S. border, families are sleeping in tents and under tarps. It is the same tiny patch that has hosted refugees from around the world in recent year. Upon arriving at the border, Ukrainians are granted humanitarian parole for one year.