Russian Group Stranded In Cleveland - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Russian Group Stranded In Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) - Immigration officials Monday questioned young Russians who showed up late at night on a bus expecting to be whisked away to a job, only to end up stranded downtown.

"INS is in the preliminary stages of this investigation. It would be premature to comment any further. We just started interviewing these individuals," said Mark Hanson, district director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Cleveland.

Algis Ruksenas, executive director the private International Services Center, a refugee resettlement agency in Cleveland, said Monday he spoke with officials who were trying to gather information about the group.

He said 12 Russians, in their late teens or early 20s, arrived in Cleveland from New York City on a bus Sunday night and were surprised nobody was there to meet them. Some of the 12 spent the night at the Greyhound bus station.

Two girls wandered nearby to the Cleveland State University campus, where they asked a campus police officer for help, he said.

Ruksenas said his agency was not involved, but he tried to help when contacted. He said this group was part of an arrangement to come to America and work jobs temporarily. He said such groups usually are composed of students who just want a chance to see what life is like in the United States.

"Sometimes it's a summer work experience followed by a month of touring. In the main, it works pretty well. But sometimes jobs are promised ahead of time, then when they get here the job is no longer existing or never did. Then they get stranded," he said.

The members of the group showed authorities papers that they were to report to a company in Willowick, a Cleveland suburb, for minimum wage hotel service jobs.

Elaine Geiko, assistant general manager of the hotel placement business named in the group's papers, said Monday that the group should have planned to arrive during a weekday morning and then call her office. She said no one was expecting them on a Sunday night.

"They come and nobody meets them. So they get to Cleveland and then get angry," she said.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported their plight Monday.

"I've had a half dozen calls from people who want to help them," Ruksenas said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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