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Utah family fleeing Ukraine home at last after separation at border

Posted at 9:22 PM, Apr 07, 2022

SPANISH FORK, Utah — After days of separation and anxiety, a Utah family fleeing Ukraine is home in Spanish Fork and ready for a fresh start.

FOX 13 News first reported on the story on Sunday, when the Harrison family was separated as they tried to cross the California-Mexico border.

The mother of the family, Anna Harrison is a Ukrainian citizen and fled the country along with her daughter, Sofiya, to meet her husband Brad in Utah.

At the border, Sofiya, who is a U.S. citizen got through. Anna was stopped. The Harrison family and their attorney report they were denied contact for three days.

After 4 long days, she was released and made it back home.

The Harrison home in Spanish Fork is like many others with pictures and quotes about family hanging from the walls.

“I'm just happy that we're together again,” Sofiya Harrison said.

Anna remembered the night before she decided to take her daughter and flee her home country.

“The night before we decided to leave was super scary. The bombing was very close," Anna described. "That's why in the morning I called her my sister and we decided to leave.”

Anna and her family made it to Bulgaria where they went their separate ways to live in other countries they had family in.

For her, the plan was to travel to Tijuana, Mexico, and then head into the United States since she had the proper paperwork to be a humanitarian parole.

Before that could happen she was detained at the border by customs and border protection. Anna said she shared a small space with 22 other Ukrainians who spoke no English.

While Anna was detained, her husband Brad was working to get her out.

"We were at our wit's end,” Brad said.

After four days, Anna was released but had no way to contact her family. She went to a McDonald's across the street and borrowed a phone from a security guard to call her husband.

Getting a call from a strange number, he didn’t pick up right away.

“We laugh about it because I let it ring and ring and ring,” he said. “I just answered that probably on the last ring."

Despite the long hard journey, the family is together again at home in Utah.

"You know, at least we're together now.” Brad Harrison said with Sofiya adding "I just still can't believe she's here with us. And we're all here together. To be honest, I'm just happy.”

The family adds while they are happy to be home they are worried about everyone else who is attempting to come here from Ukraine and hopes this shines some light on what those fleeing Ukraine are facing to come to the U.S.