More than 4.1 million refugees have fled the war zone since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Many came to Tijuana hoping to get asylum in the United States. So far, more than 3,000 Ukrainians have crossed through the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry.
Some camp at a Tijuana bus station to wait for their turn to claim asylum.
Many are tired from their long trip. This woman rests her head while she waits in line at a bus station near the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry.
Parents try their best to calm and entertain their children. This young girl is playing with her father by blowing bubbles, while she and her family wait in Tijuana for their chance to claim asylum.
For one family, their long journey is almost done. They are next in line at the San Ysidro PedEast entrance.
In the foreground is a new chain-link fence near the Tijuana side of the port of entry in PedEast. Behind the fence are regular border crossers. And in the background, are Ukrainian war refugees waiting to be called on by Customs and Border Protection officers.
Hundreds of refugees have set up a makeshift camp in Tijuana while they wait in line for multiple days to claim asylum in the United States.
Others are living in this Tijuana recreation center called the "Unidad Deportiva Benito Juárez." Sleeping mats have been placed on the basketball court, one next to the other, making beds for up to 600 Ukrainians fleeing the war.
This mother and her young daughter are just two of more than 600 Ukrainian war refugees waiting at "Unidad Deportiva Benito Juárez."
Women who are traveling with small children make up many of the more than 600 refugees at the recreation center.
A boy sits on a mat at Tijuana's "Unidad Deportiva Benito Juárez."
Volunteers are handing out blankets and clothes to refugees.
While there, refugees are able to charge their cell phones to contact family members and keep up with the news on the invasion.
Matthew Bowler is an award-winning journalist from San Diego. Bowler comes from a long line of San Diego journalists. Both his father and grandfather worked as journalists covering San Diego. He is also a third generation San Diego State University graduate, where he studied art with a specialty in painting and printmaking. Bowler moved to the South of France after graduating from SDSU. While there he participated in many art exhibitions. The newspaper “La Marseillaise” called his work “les oeuvres impossible” or “the impossible works.” After his year in Provence, Bowler returned to San Diego and began to work as a freelance photographer for newspapers and magazines. Some years later, he discovered his passion for reporting the news, for getting at the truth, for impacting lives. Bowler is privileged to have received many San Diego Press Club Awards along with two Emmy's.