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Prayers and despair: Ukrainians in America decry invasion

The Rev. The Rev. His Ukrainian in-laws told him that they couldn't get basic necessities like milk and bread.

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Prayers and despair: Ukrainians in America decry invasion

Myronyuk couldn't help but to pray for his family and friends that they would be safe from the Russian invasion.

As the war in Ukraine unfolded, Americans felt helpless. There was little chance that their Ukrainian loved ones would be able to seek refuge in America. They are now trying to raise money and supplies and desperately looking for advice from immigration lawyers about how to get their family here.

Myronyuk, the pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church, Scranton, Pennsylvania, said, "I say, ‘We’re praying for you. We wish you to be safely, go to safety.'" He said that "we have to continue praying and asking God for help" but "there's nothing else we can do."

On Thursday, demonstrators gathered in Manhattan's Times Square near the Russian Federation mission to the United Nations. They waved blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags while denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin. Around 100 people gathered at an overpass in Chicago to sing the Ukrainian national anthem.

The worst thing is that we can't help them anymore. Hrystyna, a Chicago resident, said that she would send money but that everything was closed. She has lived in the U.S. since 1995 and has relatives in Ukraine. Klym is a volunteer with an organization that regularly sends clothes, magazines and money to Ukraine's most needy, especially wounded soldiers. However, she stated that there's no direct way to donate now.

Mila Radeva (39), from Parma Heights in Cleveland, stated that her father, who lives near Odessa, Ukraine, had taken refuge in his basement after the explosions rocked the neighborhood.

Radeva, a Russian immigrant who arrived in the U.S. twenty years ago, said that "a lot of people will die." When asked if her family might flee, Radeva replied that they don't have any place to run.

Ekaterina Mouratova is a Miami immigration lawyer. She said Thursday was "a crazy" day with many phone calls and emails coming in from both Ukrainians and Russians looking for refuge in the United States. Ukrainians want to flee Russian troops. Russians fear they might be drafted or have their bank accounts frozen during wartime.

Although she offered no encouragement, she predicted that Poland would be an even more likely destination.

She stated that there is no legal way to bring people here.

Mouratova stated that Ukrainians could flee their country and fly to Mexico as tourists to seek asylum. However, fleeing war is not considered legal grounds to apply for asylum.

Ukrainians may also be eligible to refugee resettlement. After being approved abroad, up to 125,000 Ukrainians can be accepted into the U.S. This year. However, processing has been slow because U.S. authorities are focusing on Afghans fleeing Taliban rule.

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated that the U.S. is ready to accept Ukrainian refugees but "we certainly expect that most, if not all will want to travel to Europe and other neighboring countries."

The Biden administration was asked by immigration advocates to grant Ukraine Temporary Protected status, which is a form for reprieve to its citizens who are already living in the United States. TPS has been granted by the U.S. to 12 countries affected by war or natural catastrophe.

Natalia Blauvelt of Chicago Immigration, answered calls from desperate Ukrainian clients, friends and potential clients. She said that they were "absolutely devastated, extremely sorry ....". Many of them are in panic because of the events in Ukraine and don't know how to help their families.

According to Census, more than 1,000,000 Americans report Ukrainian descent, with large populations in New York City and Chicago, Seattle, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

Oksana Bilobran is an attorney at Seattle's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. She arrived in the U.S. 17 years ago from Ukraine. Together with others, she has been pushing elected officials to do more for Ukraine. This includes securing a no fly zone over the country and providing humanitarian support for Ukrainians living in the U.S. to ensure they don't return to Ukraine.

They are also looking for ways to help Ukraine financially since PayPal and Venmo aren't available.

She stated that "we need to increase our fundraising to supply necessities, as the Ukrainian military cannot match the Russian army so we need as much assistance as possible here."

The United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, which was established in World War II to assist Ukrainian refugees, has returned to wartime status. It prepared a container containing clothing, diapers and wheelchairs as well as personal hygiene products. According to Motrja Watters, the executive director of the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, donations had increased in recent weeks due to Russia's massing of military personnel on Ukraine's doorstep.

If Russia blocks humanitarian aid, the group will send the container to Ukraine or Poland. Watters, whose parents are Ukrainian, stated that relief groups are cooperating to ensure aid is delivered as efficiently as possible.

She stated that everyone is trying to understand the what and whereabouts of Ukraine's needs. "We are working round the clock... We are working around the clock to assist those who are already hurt, families that have split up and many others.

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