San Antonio – It was a long journey from Europe to the U.S. for Alexander Ilin and his family. They fled from the war in Ukraine to Spain seeking refuge. It’s where they met Stephen Dellwo, from Texas.
“In the short time that I’ve known them, I’ve come to care about them very much. I wanted to do what I could to help them,” Dellwo said.
Dellwo agreed to sponsor the family under the federal government’s Uniting for Ukraine program. After almost immediate approval, Ilin and his family moved to San Antonio on Thanksgiving Day.
“…them having a social security, he needs it to get a bank account, he needs it to get benefits,” Dellwo explained.
Ilin said he is looking forward to gaining the ability to provide for his family.
“I’m very excited and for that, I need to work a lot. I need to help other people in Ukraine,” Ilin said.
Due to the language barrier between Dellwo and Ilin, the family uses Spanish as a common language to communicate. Dellwo hopes the San Antonio community pitches in to help the family resettle.
“I’m hoping that somebody out there will maybe, one of the big car dealers will donate a car,” Dellwo said.
As Dellwo helps the refugee family navigate the system, he’s learning how immigration works. He said he recognizes the disparities foreigners face migrating to the U.S.
“For thousands of these other people…they need people to step up and say, ‘I’ll take the responsibility of sponsoring these people,’” he said.
The Biden administration announced this year that the Department of Homeland Security will receive 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. However, it differs for other refugees fleeing violence in other Middle Eastern and Latin American countries. Including Venezuela, where DHS is only approving up to 24,000 refugees this year. Immigration attorney Jodi Goodwin believes a long history of discrimination within immigration policies is part of the issue.
“We have Afghanis that are put through a much harder process, much longer process, and same thing with the Venezuelans -- much more requirements,” Goodwin explained.
With more than 30 years of experience, she said the complexities of immigration laws have not changed much over time.
“Our policies and the implementation of those policies is done in such a way that at least on its surface, was apparently done to discriminate based on race,” Goodwin explained.
It’s part of the reason why Dellwo said he is committed to serving others.
“The goal should be let’s help as many, many of these people as we can,” he said.
If you’re interested in learning more about sponsorship for an immigration process, click here.