Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Venezuelan asylum requests skyrocket

Published:Friday | June 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A man kisses his baby during a protest for food at the Catia neighbourhood in Caracas, Venezuela, on Tuesday. Tensions rose after customers waited in line for hours and their frustration turned into a street protest.

Asylum requests skyrocket


The number of Venezuelans seeking asylum in the United States has soared as the oil-dependent economy crashes.

The most recent data from Citizenship and Immigration Services show that in March 2016, Venezuela climbed to second place among countries submitting asylum requests, with 1,345 applications during that month. Only citizens of China submitted more requests.

The South American country first cracked the top 10 asylum-seeking nations in February, 2014. That was when a bloody, months-long street protest movement seeking to oust the socialist administration kicked off. Back then, around 100 Venezuelans per month were seeking asylum.

Boston-based non-profit Refugee Freedom Program said yesterday that the vast majority of asylum-seekers are middle-class Venezuelans fleeing rampant crime and an economic crisis. It says they are unlikely to qualify for refugee status.