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Anti-war activists fleeing Russia find detention, not freedom, in US


Many asylum seekers are released and allowed to plead their case later in court. But thousands are sent to detention centers, where it is difficult to find lawyers and collect evidence, and the chances of obtaining asylum are extremely slim.

ICE has not released statistics on the nationalities of migrants held behind bars, but lawyers who work regularly with migrants say Russian asylum seekers appear to have been detained at relatively high rates in recent months, sometimes with bails set at over $30,000. Some Russians have been imprisoned for months in what they describe as extremely harsh conditions.

Proportionally, compared to people from other countries, there are more Russians sent to detention, said Svetlana Kaff, a San Francisco-based immigration lawyer who said she was inundated with requests for help.

Like the young doctors detained in Louisiana, many said they came to the United States thinking they would be welcome as Americas allies for democracy in Russia and Ukraine.

Olga Nikitina, who fled Russia with her husband after being imprisoned there several times, spent five months in the same facility as Ms Shemiatina. The whole time I was there, they treated us like garbage,” says Ms. Nikitina, 33. I called hotlines, but it didn’t help.

Her husband, Aleksandr Balashov, 33, was held for four months at a facility in Batavia, NY, where he says officers told him and others they had no rights because that they had entered the country illegally.

Ivan Sokolovski, 25, another activist, has been detained at Pine Prairie for seven months. He recently lost his asylum file and says he fears being deported until his death. It would have been more humane to be shot at the border than to be held for so long in prison, he said.




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