SPANISH FORK (ABC4) – Ganna Harrison and Sofiya were living in Ukraine, in the process of applying for a U.S. green card, when the war broke out. Ganna Harrison said she stood by the window in her home watching bombs explode near her house. Harrison took her daughter and fled the country to Mexico, where she met up with her husband, Bradley Harrison. Bradley was living on and off between the United States and Ukraine, three months at a time.
When the family tried to cross into the United States, Ganna Harrison was stopped and detained at the border. Bradley and Sofiya Harrison who are U.S. citizens were allowed through.
“They told us she would be one or two days processing with a humanitarian parole,” said Bradley Harrison.
But instead, Ganna said she was led into a room with fifteen other women.
“It was a prison,” Ganna said, “when we came to the room, you have to walk with your hands behind your back, like a prisoner.”
Ganna said she was kept there for days without information or any calls to her family. She said she slept on the floor on a yoga mat, and her shoes served as a pillow. The room was cold, and lights were left on 24 hours a day.
Ganna said she was the only English speaker among the women. Bradley Harrison said he tried calling U.S. Customs and Border Protection and was told they had no records of Ganna’s whereabouts. Bradley believed Ganna was lost in the system.
On the fourth day of being detained, Ganna was released from the facility. She said officials didn’t offer to call her family or offer her a phone to use. She walked across the street to a McDonald’s, where she borrowed a cell phone and called her husband. “[I said] I’m here, I’m free. It was very difficult,” said Ganna.
The family is relieved to be back together.
“I feel very happy at least she’s here and safe and she’s with us,” said Sofiya.
“Here in the USA I’m really happy and I feel safe,” said Ganna.
Ganna said she hopes sharing her story will help other Ukrainians who are going through something similar, and shed light on the flaws of the U.S. immigration system.