A growing number of Russians and Ukrainians are traveling to Mexico, buying throwaway cars, and driving across the border into the United States to seek asylum, a trend that could accelerate as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced more than a million people to flee their homes.
U.S. border officials encountered about 6,400 Russians in the four months between October 2021 and January of this year, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data show. That’s more than the roughly 4,100 apprehended during the entire 2021 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. The jump is similar for Ukrainians, with a little more than 1,000 apprehended since October 2021 through January, compared to about 680 for all of the last fiscal year.
These migrants account for a slim fraction of the 670,000 apprehensions made by U.S. border agents in the first months of the 2022 fiscal year, CBP figures show. The majority of those stopped were from Mexico and Central America and were swiftly removed from the United States.