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Utah family fleeing Ukraine reunited after separation at border

Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 00:22:51-04

UPDATE: State Sen. Mike McKell said Monday night that Anna has been released and is with her husband and daughter in San Diego.

"She was released about 30 minutes ago after being held 5 days with ZERO contact with her family," McKell tweeted.

Original story continues below.


CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A Utah family was separated after they fled Ukraine and tried to cross the California-Mexico border.

“It’s just disappointing that we get here and she’s treated like an absolute criminal,” said husband Brad Harrison. “It’s not fair what they’ve done.”

Brad’s wife, Anna, is a Ukrainian citizen. Anna and her daughter Sofiya were in Ukraine when Russia first attacked.

“It was really sad. I didn’t know what was happening,” said Sofiya.

They said they came to the United States for safety, thinking they would meet up with Brad. But on the border in Chula Vista, California, Sofiya — who is a U.S. citizen — got through. Anna was stopped.

“I was pretty sad. I was crying,” said Sofiya. “I just couldn’t believe you could do that. I thought they would just let her go and we could go.”

The Harrisons and their attorney say they have been denied contact with Anna for three days and they do not know where she is.

Their attorney says she spoke with border patrol workers and they would not let her see or speak to Aanna.

“I’ve walked every line that they’ve wanted me to walk and they’re not allowing us access to her,” said immigration attorney Mari Alvarado Tsosie. “This is not acceptable.”

WATCH: Ukrainian refugees describe new life with Utah host family

The news has reached Utah leaders.

“I am upset, the family is upset,” said Utah State Senator Mike McKell. “You’ve got somebody who literally just escaped the Russians and is now being treated like a criminal in the United States.”

Officials say they’re working to get Anna back to her family.

“Let Anna out. Let’s get her here in Utah,” said Senator McKell. “She should not be in custody; She’s been through far too much.”

Brad and Sofiya say they’ll continue to hope for a reunion.

“I want her to be with me, I want her to be with my dad, I want her to be with our family,” said Sofiya.

“I am just hoping for a call from her or someone to give us an update,” said Brad.