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Ukrainian family reunited after CBP separation in San Ysidro

Posted at 6:21 AM, Mar 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 15:50:49-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A Ukrainian family separated at the San Ysidro Port of Entry is back together and speaking out for the first time since the entire ordeal.

Lena Kara was separated from her nursing six-month-old baby for nearly nine days by Customs and Border Protection after the family attempted to claim asylum by driving up to the Port of Entry in San Ysidro.

Her husband Kirill is a U.S. citizen, and he was let into the country with baby Katie. Lena, who is not a citizen, was detained.

"She didn't expect it but she said it was scary, it's like jail basically," Kirill said.

Lena was released a week ago and has since traveled to Philadelphia, where the family is staying with family members. A reunion, Lena says she thought about every night she was in custody.

The couple says they never got an explanation from CBP for why Lena was held, but say the staff and officers were nothing but kind. Upon release, she went to a hotel near the border before flying to Philadelphia.

Kiril says the officials took her passport, she will eventually have a court date to make her case.

Despite the entire ordeal, the family says they feel grateful to have escaped the dangers of war, and now closely monitor what's going on back home.

Lena does have a pending citizenship petition and the family is hoping that they can make their case before an immigration judge and get her status legalized.

CBP still has not responded to our repeated requests for comment on this case.