ABC 7 NY
By Kemberly Richardson
March 27, 2022
Ukrainian refugees were willing to wait as long as it took since their lives have been turned upside-down. They are now looking for help as they anxiously navigate uncharted waters.
“Today I hope to have a chance to get documents to work because I want to support Ukraine in some way,” said Ukrainian refugee Maryna Andriienko.
The line wrapped around the corner at Shorefront Y in Brighton Beach. Inside, volunteers, teams of attorneys and translators helped guide people through a mound of paperwork and told them what to expect when applying for Temporary Protected Status.
“We expect to get our share here in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn – we want to make sure we are meeting the needs of the community,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
Tatiana Agafonova waited patiently – she is from southern Ukraine and is in Brooklyn with a relative who came to visit in November.
“She was ready to go back in May when her visa expired, but there’s no place to return in Kherson – it’s occupied, and a lot of houses are ruined,” Agafonova said.
For some people, Temporary Protected Status is not an option, because they arrived in the United States after March 1, and therefore are not eligible. Still, volunteers are trying to help.
“Being in a country not knowing language, immigration system – it’s incredible and unsurmountable at times for them,” said Evangeline Chan, Director of Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project.
Even with so much on their plates, there is a sense of optimism – not if, but when.