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By Tim Hunt

Two stories of Ukraine

Uploaded: Mar 29, 2022

Following on Ukraine with good news and bad news.
A month ago, I wrote about a Ukrainian woman who worked for a construction company repairing my home. At the time after Russia had invaded, she was planning to travel to Ukraine to help her elderly mother get out of the country from the city in east where she lived. She didn’t have details, but was planning to figure it out and go quickly. She has a sister with small children who lives in Israel and Libi was single so she figured she would have to go.
Turned out that her sister was able to get her mother a ticket on a bus to Lviv and she was able to go from there to Poland and then onto Israel. Great news—displaced, but safe with family.
It was not the case for a Ukrainian couple that my friend Kate Runyon met on a Hawaiian cruise this winter. You may remember Kate from her service on the Livermore school board and the education foundation prior to her election. We met when I was helping the foundation pull together funding when the district was really struggling financially in the early 2000s.
Kate and her husband, Dave, love to cruise and have taken 20 or more as Kate related to me in a recent phone call. She’d reached out because she figured I would know some area restauranteurs who could use some good help. The husband was as fine a server as she said she’d ever encountered and his wife was also employed on the ship.
The cruise was scheduled to end in San Francisco and their employment contract was up. Kate had offered bedrooms in her Livermore home. Since her kids grew up and left, she and Dave had plenty of room in their spacious home. She thought they could figure out the immigration issues once the couple was temporarily settled here.
So much for plans.
As Kate wrote on her Facebook page March 23, “I am not proud of my country today. Some of you know that we took a cruise and our superb waiter was from Ukraine. They were due to return to Ukraine this week. They were leaving from the port of San Francisco on Sunday. They were in a very bad situation. We have several empty rooms since the kids grew up and moved away. We offered those rooms to Taras and his wife who also works on the ship.
“But our government is not letting Ukrainians off ships in US ports. It is shameful. When you look at all the people let into Poland. It is APPALLING that we are not doing our part to help people fleeing the violence.
They are leaving the ship in Mexico, and going to Poland. They don’t even speak Polish. They speak excellent English. To Taras, Ivanka, and Maria I am so very sorry.”

If I recall correctly, President Biden announced last week that his administration would admit 100,000 refugees from Ukraine. Here were two—or more on that cruise ship—that could have immediately been relocated here without the challenges of moving people from Poland or other eastern European countries.

Compare that policy with whatever passes for “policy” with the wide-open southern border or the flood of Afghan refugees—driven by the Biden administration’s horrible execution of bailing out of their country.

I agree with Kate’s view, although I’d clarify that it’s the administration in power that is failing, not the United States people.