In this special episode of Breaking Battlegrounds, Chuck and Sam are joined by Brad Harrison, whose wife had to flee her home country of Ukraine when war broke out, only to be stopped by US Customs and Immigration, despite promises from US officials that Ukrainian refugees would be granted asylum. Now Brad, an American citizen, is fighting to make sure his wife is safe.
For the first nights of the Russian bombardment of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv 41-year old Ghanna (Anna) Harrison would make sure the ear-pods of her 10-year old Sofiya were in tight and the iPad was charged so as to drown out the thudding of the missiles and bombs beginning to fall around them.
Anna would then get on the phone with her Air Force veteran husband of 10 years Brad Harrison and talk through the night about how she and Sofiya would soon be joining him in America at the home he was going to build for them in his hometown of Spanish Fork, Utah.
Only 10 days before the war Brad left Ukraine to prepare the way for his family to come to the United States never believing the Russians would savage his wife’s city and nation as they have. On the morning of 26th of February Anna sensed a pause in the bombings and began the 800 mile escape across Kharkiv and the backroads of central Ukraine heading west until reaching the boarder of Romania.
Now the first week of April 2022 after flying with her American passport carrying Sofiya and meeting Brad in Tijuana based on the promise of American President Joe Biden who spread his arms and said if 100,000 Ukrainian refugees could make it to America’s borders they would, “Be welcomed with open arms.”
Armed with paperwork and letters, and emails from the senate offices of Senators Mike Lee, John Harmer, and Utah State Senator Mike McKell, encouraging ICE and CBP (Customs and Border Protection) grant Anna asylum by Humane Parole; the Harrisons drove to the border crossing at San Ysidro as a family unit of three.
“They wouldn’t even look at any of the documents,” Brad said. “They made Anna get out of the car and Sofiya and I stay in. She came back crying saying she’d been detained, and they’d taken her phone away and were allowing her one change of clothes. That’s the last we saw of her; them leading her away.”
That was Thursday, March 31st and Harrison, Sofiya and his immigration attorney have attempted contact every single day only to be denied. And as of today both CBP and ICE have suddenly denied Anna is in their systems… nowhere to be found.
“She escaped the Russians only to be captured by the Americans,” Brad said. “She escaped the Russian gulag, and now she’s in an American one – we think.”
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