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Number of Venezuelans living in the US up 135% in 14 years

Most Venezuelan living in the United States are legal residents, hold savings, and have a higher education level than other Hispanics and average US citizens

Based on the latest US Census, 259,000 Venezuelans are legal aliens in the United States (File photo)
FRANK LÓPEZ BALLESTEROS |  EL UNIVERSAL
Saturday May 10, 2014  12:00 AM
Some 259,000 Venezuelans are legal residents in the United States, according to the latest US Census. Based on other data, the number of Venezuelan citizens living in the United States totals 500,000 people. Regardless of the accuracy of these figures, the Venezuelan population in the northern country is growing steadily.

Most Venezuelans in US live in the State of Florida and are legal residents. In addition to holding savings, their education level is higher than that of other Hispanics and average US citizens.

The reported 259,000 Venezuelans living in the US means a sharp rise compared to 2000, when they accounted for 91,507. This is 135% increase, based on the latest US Census.

Venezuelans rank fifth among the South American community living in the US, after Colombians (908,000), Ecuadorians (564,000), Peruvians (531,000), and Argentineans (225,000).

The Pew Hispanic Center (PHC) Report for year 2012 noted that Venezuelans residing in Florida aged 17-55 amount to 64.5% and that 47.1% holds either a bachelor or a master's degree. Furthermore, 91.5% of them speak English and Spanish and by year 2000 had a job.

Asylum as a last option

Violence, political crisis, and the socio-economic scenario facing Venezuela have turned its citizens into the second largest population of foreign nationals (after the Chinese) requesting asylum in the United States.

As polarization in Venezuela escalates, in the last four years a total of 3,868 Venezuelans were granted asylum in the United States. The figure skyrocketed 80% in 2010-2011 and it was similar in 2012.

A year 2012 report from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, highlights that 1,528 Venezuelans were granted or applied for asylum in the United States in 2013. 

In 2009, authorities granted asylum to 585 Venezuelans who arrived either alone or with their families, and whose requests were based on life-threatening persecution in Venezuela.

US migratory laws provide that asylum may be requested by any person on grounds of persecution due to his/her nationality, religion, political views, or for being part of a given social group, an expert explained.

In 2010, after the outcome of Venezuela's parliamentary election, nearly 1,000 Venezuelans arrived in the US requesting asylum, but only 648 of them eventually received it.

frlopez@eluniversal.com

@franchuterias

Translated by Jhean Cabrera
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