Venezuelans fleeing their country’s crashing, socialist economy are leading in requests to come to the U.S. as asylum seekers, according to new data.
A record number of 18,155 Venezuelans sought asylum in 2016, a 150 percent increase from the previous year and six-times the number from 2014, according to Citizenship and Immigration Services data obtained by Fox News.
Middle-class Venezuelans make up the majority of asylees looking to come to the U.S., as they do not qualify for refugee status.
Director of the Refugee Freedom Program Julio Henriquez told Fox News said the rapid increase in Venezuelans trying to escape their country’s socialist economy is “alarming.”
“The pace at which requests are increasing is alarming,” Henriquez told Fox News. “It’s not just worrisome that so many people are escaping the terrible situation in Venezuela but also that the practice of sending asylum-seekers with poor advice and false proof is proliferating.”
In 2015, Venezuelans were one of the top 10 noncitizen cohorts living in the U.S. who had overstayed their visas, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Chinese citizens are in a similar situation. In 2016, some 17,745 citizens of China requested asylum in the U.S., as they too do not qualify for refugee status.
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.