Ukraine refugees wait for permission to cross the border
Refugees wait in Uzhhorod, Ukraine for permission to cross the border into Europe through the Ukrainian-Slovak border on Feb. 26, 2022. Credit: Yanosh Nemesh / Shutterstock

As a Romanian native, Hartford immigration attorney Dana Bucin said she was inspired by television footage of Romanians taking in refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine, and is now taking action.

Dana Bucin of Murtha Cullina. Credit: Contributed photo

“My country is welcoming Ukrainian refugees as we speak,” Bucin said. “I have witnessed a lot of Romanians generously opening their homes and country to these refugees. I have watched these images over and over. I thought I should be doing something.” 

Bucin is heading to the Mexican/United States border in San Diego, California to meet with Ukrainian refugees to discuss their legal options to enter into the United States. Along with two other attorneys, Bucin is heading out on Wednesday and will be staying two days. She is offering her services on a pro bono basis. 

“Now I get a chance to help them at my border with the U.S. and Mexico,” Bucin said, adding she can continue to help where her Romanian compatriots left off. “Maybe I can manage to get them paroled into the United States.” 

Bucin will report from the border through social media, including  LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Bucin said she is going to help refugees qualify for “humanitarian parole.” Any Ukrainian national who has a US-based sponsor willing to offer housing is legally eligible for humanitarian parole at the border, Bucin explained, although there is a limited window of opportunity for streamlined access before the existing Title 42 policy is rescinded on May 23. 

“They are here because they have relatives or very good friends willing to take them in,” Bucin explained. 

Bucin said that once they heard about her impending trip, representatives from various Ukrainian churches here have offered housing for anyone who needs it. 

Bucin, who also serves as the Honorary Consul of Romania to Connecticut, has been aware of the needs of refugees through partnerships with the League for Defense of Human Rights in Cluj, Romania (LADO Cluj) and the University of Babes-Bolyai’s Romanian Center For Comparative Migration Studies.  

Romania has welcomed 641,276 Ukrainian refugees and citizens there have provided them with housing and other types of assistance, Bucin said. 

There are many visa options for Ukrainians fleeing the war, Bucin outlined. 

Bucin said she also wants to highlight the need for immigration reform. 

“We know these people are clearly refugees. We know these people have no home to go to. It’s dangerous to return to Ukraine, so you have so many genuine refugees who are crashing at the border,” Bucin said. “The question we should all be asking ourselves is why don’t we have better legal avenues to serve the needs of the 21st century immigration pattern.” 

Bucin said the U.S. is not equipped to deal with the global wars that drive refugees here, adding it would be more efficient to have a process where those fleeing their countries should be able to secure passage through US consulates abroad, qualify for humanitarian parole, secure a passport and fly safely to the U.S. 

“This is what we need, but immigration tends to be such an emotional topic these days, and keeps not getting done,” she said. 

Bucin is the chair of the immigration practice at Murtha Cullina in Hartford.

Dana R. Bucin is the Chair of the Murtha Cullina Immigration Practice. In 2019, she was named the “Attorney of the Year” by the Connecticut Law Tribune, and in 2016, the Connecticut Immigrant and Refugee Coalition recognized her as an Annual Immigrant Day Honoree.