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Father fleeing Ukraine says Customs and Border Protection detained wife in San Ysidro

Posted at 6:57 AM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 09:57:08-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A father says he is desperate to reunite his nursing baby with his Ukrainian wife after he says they were separated at the San Ysidro Port of Entry by Customs and Border Protection officials.

Kirill Kara, a U.S. citizen, and his six-month-old baby, Katie, have been staying in a hotel room just feet away from the border. It’s been six days since Kara has heard from or seen his wife

Kara says he and his wife, Lena, fled Ukraine on Feb. 25, the day after Russia's invasion, starting a 10-day travel journey to Tijuana. The family left Ukraine, traveled to Romania, Germany, and then arrived in Cancun, Mexico, before eventually reaching Tijuana.

Since Kara is a U.S. citizen, the family thought they would be allowed into the country, so they drove up to San Ysidro.

"I drove up I gave him my passport, and he looked at my wife’s and said, 'Oh, I know why you’re here,' and I said, 'Well, why am I here?' and he just didn’t answer me, he just said be quiet," says Kara.

Kara says CBP officials detained his wife, but he was told he could enter the country with their baby. Kara doesn’t know where his wife is being held or how long it’ll be before he can speak to her.

The family has now hired local immigration attorney Jacob Sapochnick to help find out what’s going on. Sapochnick says Kara has a pending citizenship petition for his wife, filed 17 months ago, and says the U.S. government should be handling cases like this one differently.

"They can act in a more civilized way, knowing that they just left a was that has been going on for the past 10 days," explains Sapochnick.

For now, Kara says all he can do is comfort his baby- and hope to hear from his wife soon.

"We’re not just coming in just because we want to, we had to go somewhere because there was a war in Ukraine," says Kara.

ABC 10News did reach out to CBP officials both at the local and federal levels to ask more about this case but have not heard back.