STERLING, Va. – Workdays can sometimes feel repetitive, like a scene from “Groundhog Day,” so it is refreshing when something that gives you good feels breaks that routine.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Washington Dulles International Airport experienced that feel good moment on Saturday when officers helped expedite the arrivals of 65 orphaned children visiting from the Ukraine under Open Hearts and Homes for Children’s (OHHC) Orphan Hosting Program.
The OHHC Orphan Hosting Program pairs orphaned Ukrainian and Latvian children, ages 7-16, with a U.S. host or foster family for a short visit to experience America.
According to the OHHC’s Tara Anderson, while OHHC is not an adoption program, sometimes the U.S. host family, or other families who meet the child while they are here for hosting, go on to complete the adoption process to make the child a permanent member of their family.
The OHHC initially contacted CBP’s Area Port of Washington on June 14 and requested access into CBP’s inspection station for OHHC’s leadership to greet the children upon arrival from the Ukraine. CBP officers granted that access and assigned CBP’s Liaison Team to help shepherd the 65 orphans and five chaperones through their international arrivals processing.
Additionally, a CBP officer of Ukraine descent fluently communicated with the children.
“Many of our Customs and Border Protection officers are parents of children around the same age as these children, and we can appreciate how intimidating it could be to travel to a foreign country. We were happy to accommodate OHHC and to be the orphans’ first welcoming face in the United States,” said Keith Fleming, Acting Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office.
The OHHC leadership and traveling party quickly departed CBP’s inspection station to start experiencing the United States.
CBP's border security mission is led at ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality. Learn what CBP accomplished during "A Typical Day" in 2020.