HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — An immigration lawyer from Hartford wanted to help Ukrainian refugees, so she packed her bags and went to Mexico to offer her services.
Dana Bucin, a Murtha Cullina Immigration Attorney, spent three days at the U.S.-Mexico border providing free legal counsel to families and children fleeing Ukraine. She and another immigration lawyer from South Windsor were the only attorneys at the border.
Being from Romania, Bucin said this was something she wanted to do to help.
“I felt very drawn to help my neighbors, the Ukrainians,” Bucin said.
On April 21, the Biden administration announced a new streamlined process allowing Ukrainians to come to the United States. Prior to the announcement, Ukrainian refugees without visas couldn’t fly directly to the U.S., so they flew to Tijuana, Mexico instead. They stay at a refugee camp until they are granted humanitarian parole and can cross the border.
Bucin said up to 1,000 refugees cross the U.S.-Mexico border a day and many of them spend their life’s savings on the journey from Ukraine to Mexico.
Semen Bobrovskii and Daria Sakhniuk fled the war in Ukraine in March, leaving everything behind.
”We had a very good life. We had friends, we had our own apartment, we had a family there. The thing is we’ve been torn from the place we’ve been.”
The two were in Tijuana for days and even got married there last Wednesday.
Bucin helped them cross the border. She gave advice to more than 150 refugees, some of them children from Mariupol, traveling by themselves.
“I got to hear some of those stories and it just breaks your heart, and to see some of the images of their houses. There’s a reason why their parents aren’t able to come with them.”
As Bobrovskii and Sakhniuk work on building a new life, they think of the life, family and friends they left behind. They’re hoping they can soon give back and help more Ukrainians settle in America.
“We just want to be independent and help people in return… because we’re raised up to be so.”
Bucin said she has helped four more refugees come to Connecticut and plans on helping many more.
If you are interested in helping send pro bono lawyers to assist Ukrainian refugees at the border, click here.