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Sioux Falls family frustrated by backlogged visa applications for Ukrainian refugees

Ukrainian refugees painfully wait for U.S. Visa application processing while resources deplete
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 9:43 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The Dumansky family moved to Sioux Falls over twenty years ago and has a large family in Ukraine. Some are still in bunkers at Kyiv. Some made it to another country, while others are waiting for a response to their US visa application.

“How do you restart a life?” That is the question Regina Brunz asks about her family. She used to know where her family on both her Mom and Dad’s side lived in Ukraine. That was before Russia invaded.

“A couple of them went up to Poland. One of them went over to Germany,” said Brunz. She receives updates from them all on her phone.

Several family members have applied for U.S. visas. The wait is painful, and there are other considerations: stay somewhere in Europe to keep their professions amidst a sea of people doing the same, or more here.

“If they were to move to the U.S. the fear is they have to start from ground zero because we all did you know. My dad was a mechanical engineer. He ended up at John Morell.

As they waited to hear about visa applications, some of Regina’s family ran out of resources and saw no other options but to return to Ukraine.

Regina’s father William Dumansky comments on the wait for U.S. visas, saying: “It’s a big announcement with no progress. Refugees had great hope and applied for visas, but they are running out of resources (money, housing) as they wait for some movement from the U.S. that would give them permanent solutions rather than living in temporary spaces,” said Dumansky.

Looking back, Regina sees how getting her masters as a therapist, specializing in trauma, is coming together in what could be described as a divine purpose. She’s paying her own way to join other therapists, counseling refugees in Poland this summer.

“I have been called a decade ago to be prepared for this moment,” said Brunz.

Brunz is raising money for her family who has chosen to stay in Ukraine to provide food and shelter to refugees. Church pews are being moved to make way for beds. Meals are served in the church, while those walking by can get snacks and coffee outside in a tent. As the church overflows, members are taking home complete strangers to feed and provide a place to rest. Donations can be made by contacting Brunz at reginawbrunz@gmail.com

“They’re serving refugees that are fleeing from the east, or from the south,” said Brunz.

The uncertainty of each day is hard, but they continue to hope for peace.

“My heart is literally there right now with my family members,” said Brunz.

Regina says as she talks with certain Ukrainian family members, they’re in survival mode and truly don’t understand the devastation back in their hometowns. They hope to return to the life they had and are not considering permanent relocation.

A spokesperson for Governor Noem provided a statement on Ukrainian Refugees potentially coming to South Dakota.

“Governor Noem supports the refugee resettlement process, so long as adequate vetting can take place. We have begun discussing ideas with business and community leaders across the state and are exploring options,” said Ian Fury.

U.S. Senator John Thune also says refugees are welcome. “The United States has a long history of helping those in need, especially in times of war,” said Thune. “As millions flee the terror of Vladimir Putin and his army, America will continue to be a beacon of freedom and opportunity and look for ways to continue supporting Ukrainians so that they may again live in peace.”

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