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Russia invades Ukraine, country braces for major Donbas offensive

Ukrainian refugees play with frisbees as they wait in front of a gymnasium in Tijuana, Mexico on Tuesday April 5. (Gregory Bull/AP)

In the past two weeks, unaccompanied Ukrainian minors, mostly teenagers, have entered the US through the southern border after leaving their war-torn country, according to a source familiar with the US Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelter services.  

Most of the minors have flown into Mexico and then made their way to the US southern border, according to the source.

In some cases, this source says, family members living in the US have met the Ukrainian minors in Mexico, and US immigration authorities have separated the children from their relatives at the border, per government policy.

Under US law, if the relative who is with the minor is not their parent or US legal guardian, the minor is classified as unaccompanied.

How many are in US care? An Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson did not answer CNN’s questions about how many Ukrainian children are in US care and where.

While in US government care, unaccompanied children meet with a case manager at least weekly and connect with family at least twice a week, according to HHS.

This source says that in the past two weeks, between 20 and 30 unaccompanied Ukrainian minors have entered the US via the southern border. According to the source, based on the data available it’s difficult to tell a total tally at any one point in time.

According to the latest data, as of April 14, 2022, nearly 10,000 children are in HHS custody. In fiscal year 2021, most of the unaccompanied migrant children in HHS care were from Central American’s northern triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

US Customs and Border Protection sent CNN an email saying that the agency is unable to provide comment at this time.

Where are they? The same source says that most of the Ukrainian children are being placed in ORR shelters in the states of Washington, California and New York. Several unaccompanied Ukrainian minors have been reunited with their families in the US since the first child arrived about two weeks ago, the source said.

Some of the children have said that they are in the US to wait out the war and hope to return to their home country once it is no longer at war, this source said.


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