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Couple helps Ukrainian relative flee the country through Mexico border crossing

A Denver couple said they were able to get their relative humanitarian parole in the US in just a matter of hours through the Juárez, Mexico border crossing.

DENVER — A Ukrainian woman is finally in Denver after her son and daughter-in-law took extraordinary measures to get her out of the war-torn country – Michelle and Zakhar Kravtsov found help via social media as they attempted to get Zakhar's mom, Nelia Kravtsova, out of her hometown in northern Ukraine. 

Michelle connected with people in Poland who offered to pick up Nelia and bring her to the border safely. 

"It hits so close to home knowing that we have family in Ukraine. It felt different," Michelle said. "I can't put into words the stress of putting a family member's safety at risk with total strangers. However, we were desperate to get her out of Ukraine and willing to give it a try." 

Credit: Michelle Kravtsov
Michelle, Zakhar and Nelia were reunited in Poland.

Thirty-six hours after a volunteer picked up Nelia, the three were reunited in Poland. Michelle and Zakhar were not sure what to do next. 

"We talked to a couple of attorneys and it sounded like we could apply for a visa and we could stay in Warsaw it could take weeks, up to months, to process and you don’t even know if it’s going to get approved. It was just going to be a really lengthy unknown process, whereas going to Mexico, for now, is the quickest, easiest way," Michelle explained. 

   

"So most Ukrainians right now, are going through Tijuana, it’s somewhere between a 4-7 day wait I hear at the border. We did not want to have to wait a week at the border and we heard no one was going through Juárez partially because of the safety factor, but we decided just to do it." 

Credit: Michelle Kravtsov
The Kravtsov's crossed the Bridge of the Americas to get from Juárez, Mexico to El Paso, Texas.

Michelle, Zakhar and Nelia crossed the border in Juárez, Mexico. They were able to get Nelia humanitarian parole in the U.S. in just a matter of hours. If they had stayed in Europe and applied for a visa from there, it could have possibly taken them months to get Nelia a visa to travel to the U.S. safely.

"There’s a lot of support out there and we felt that support 100%, but like some of the support didn’t feel as direct as it could have been,"  Zakhar said. "This could have been so much easier. Like why couldn’t we have just flown into Denver and done the same thing we did on the Mexico border in Denver? I do not understand." 

Since the Kravtsov family arrived back in the U.S., the government has offered temporary protected status, but that's just for Ukrainians that arrived here by April 11. 

The Kravtsov's hope that, with time, the U.S., and other countries, will make it a little easier for those trying to flee a violent and deadly war. 

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