Ukrainian woman detained at border with American husband electronically monitored, set for deportation

Updated: Monday, September 1 2014, 09:41 PM MDT
Ukrainian woman detained at border with American husband electronically monitored, set for deportation story image

By: Bill Melugin

EL PASO, Texas – A Ukrainian woman who surrendered herself to Customs and Border Protection officers at the Santa Teresa port of entry last month has been placed in expedited removal, and is set to be deported back to the Ukraine.

As only KFOX14 told you, Ukrainian national Oleksandra Bronova, a Cambridge graduate fluent in five languages, and Brian Pryce, her husband and  former United States Marine, were immediately questioned and detained by CBP officials when they tried to cross the bridge with documents last month. Bronova spent several days locked up inside maximum security Otero County prison before being released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Read the original story here:

Bronova and Pryce sat down with KFOX14 to explain what has happened since her release.

"About two or three weeks ago she had her credible fear interview, and shockingly they failed her, and so they put her back in the removal process so she's slated to be deported,” Pryce said. “They put an electronic ankle bracelet on her ankle because they think she’s a flight risk. We've been in a monitoring program for the two months she's been out and they've been making one home visit a month and two times a month we go into their office and we've never missed a single meeting. Where would we go? First of all we have our paperwork filed, were asking for her permanent residency here, why would we leave? Why would we flee?  We don't have a reason to run.”

“And they’re holding my international passport, so for me it's impossible to travel without that document,” Bronova said. "First of all I don't have the documents,  and second, the area where my house is now cutoff from the rest of Ukraine, you can only get there by driving a bicycle through the field for two days.”

Bronova explained to KFOX14 that she and her family are from Mariupol, a highly contested area in southeastern Ukraine caught in the middle of the ongoing conflict with pro-Russian rebels. Mariupol isn’t far away from where NATO satellites recently captured images of Russian tanks moving into the area.

"My brother was extorted in March, that's why I came to Mexico,” she said. “But my family is now in the process of getting documents to move to the European Union, to Latvia, but it takes time to do documents because some of our administrative buildings don't work cause of the war. My brother is a successful businessman and he's very patriotic and he was supporting Ukrainian Army with finances and I think that's why he was threatened, because we are living in a very pro-Russian region.”

Bronova said she explained all of this during her credible fear interview two weeks ago, but ICE determined she didn’t qualify for asylum, and placed her back into expedited removal.

Bronova’s immigration attorney Cynthia Lopez asked for a judge to review the case.

"The very idea that they could even attempt to deport her to the Ukraine is absurd,” Lopez said. “Now they have satellite images of tanks in the Ukraine in the area where she's from, so I think she's in serious  danger. I don't even know how she would get in. Let's say a removal order is issued, how are they even going to get her to her town? Like she said, the airports are closed, there would be no way to even get her there first of all, and if she were there, she's in grave danger.”

ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa told KFOX14 she couldn’t comment on specific cases, but said, “Once  an individual has a final order of removal, ICE is required to obtain travel documents for this person. Once the country of origin issues travel documents, then ICE can send them to them back.”

She also told KFOX14 that an electronic tracker is an alternative to detention.

Lopez said she has never seen an electronic tracker placed on one of her clients, and she said Bronova’s case is moving much faster than normal.

“I think there’s some pressure on them from the outside to get this done,” she said. "I think she has a very strong asylum case and I think she's in very serious danger if she were to go back.”

But Pryce told KFOX14 the couple wasn’t even trying to ask for asylum when they surrendered themselves to CBP officers.

"We were asking for what they call active parole, they have a clause in the law for former service members or people who are active duty military that allow them to bring their wife or husband in on active parole where they can adjust their status from this side of the border,” he said.

More on that clause can be read here:

Pryce told KFOX14 he feels there is some type of double standard going on with his wife’s case.

"I know a lot of people that get their notice to appear, they're given court dates that are like a year or two out, it seems like with her situation, they have her on a fast track to go back to the Ukraine,” he said. "I understand immigration is a hot topic, but to me it's not a political issue, it's a human rights issue, there are people involved, and I know each case has a different face, but I do know this, my wife is not going to come here and be a drag on society, she's going to help improve it.”

And Pryce responded to those who believe his wife is a mail order bride.

"No, not at all, not at all,” he laughed. “We've been together for over two years, if she was a mail order bride I would've already returned her!”


Ukrainian woman detained at border with American husband electronically monitored, set for deportation
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