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FACT CHECK: Are Venezuelans Applying For Asylum Faster Than Anyone Else?

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio claimed that Venezuelans are applying for asylum in the U.S. at “the fastest growth of any country in the world” during an August 1 appearance on Fox News.

Rubio made this claim while discussing potential issues of “migratory pressure” from an influx of Venezuelan migrants. The Republican Senator underscored this and other consequences of Venezuela’s spiraling economic and political instability during his interview.

Verdict: True

Asylum applications data provided by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to The Daily Caller News Foundation confirms Rubio’s claim that Venezuelan asylum applications are the “fastest growing” in nominal terms. USCIS’ data does not confirm, however, if they are the fastest growing in percentage terms.

Fact Check:

TheDCNF obtained asylum applications data between 2015 and June 2017 from the USCIS. The data disclosed the total number of applications received during that period as well as an annual breakdown of the number of applications sent by each of the top 10 largest contributing nations.

USCISC data revealed that Venezuelans submitted 5,605 asylum applications to the U.S. in 2015. Venezuela ranked in between El Salvador and Honduras as the fifth largest source of asylum applications that year.

The number spiked to over 14,700 in 2016, USCIS data shows. Venezuela’s ranking that year accordingly jumped from fifth to second place, right behind China.

USCIS’ June 2017 data reveals that more Venezuelans have already applied for asylum in the first half of this year than they did in the previous two years combined. If the same number of Venezuelans apply in the second half of 2017 as they did in the first, Venezuela would send a total of over 40,000 asylum applications by year-end.

Venezuela had the largest nominal growth of submitted applications from 2015 to 2016 and from 2016 to 2017 so far. Venezuela, in fact, outplaced China as the largest source of asylum seekers for the first half of 2017.

Venezuela also had the fastest proportional growth from 2015 to 2016 among the top 10 countries with the highest numbers of asylum applicants during those years. The top 10 countries accounted for 70 percent of all asylum applications in 2015, 2016, and 2017 so far. Venezuela’s 2016 year over year growth rate of asylum applications was double that of Mexico’s — the second largest of the top 10.

The country is on a path to maintain its top rank again from 2016 to 2017. TheDCNF estimates that if the second half of 2017 resembles the first for all of the top 10, Venezuelan applications will register an annual growth rate that is almost double that of the second ranking country, El Salvador.

TheDCNF, however, could not confirm if Venezuela holds the fastest percentage growth rate “of [every] country in the world.” USCIS’ data only provides a breakdown of the top 10 largest sources of asylum applications; other nations’ applications are tabulated into a single “all others” category.

Rubio’s broader point about potential issues with migratory pressure, moreover, holds up with reports of Venezuelan asylee and refugee growth in neighboring Colombia and Brazil as well as in countries like Mexico and Peru that do not even border Venezuela. Sharp spikes in Venezuelan asylum applications suggest that a similar flood may loom over the U.S. as well.

Although it is unclear from USCIS data if Venezuelans registered the fastest percentage growth of every “country in the world” in asylum applications to the U.S. as Rubio claimed, it did register the fastest nominal growth of asylum applications from 2015 to 2016 and 2016 to 2017 so far. It also registered the fastest percentage growth of asylum applications among the top ten largest contributors during the same time frame. Rubio’s claim is true.

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