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Big Jump in Venezuelans Seeking U.S. Asylum Amid Worsening Economy

The number of people from Venezuela seeking asylum in the U.S. has shot up this year as the nation deals with shortages of food and other basics amid a worsening economic crisis, according to Pew Research Center.

A Pew analysis found applications for asylum filed by Venezuelans so far this year jumped up 168 percent over the same period last year. From October 2015 to June 2016, 10,221 applications from Venezuelans were filed compared to 3,810 in the same months of 2015.

Widespread Food Crisis in Venezuela Has Thousands Looking for Way Out 2:17

Applications from the Latin American country trail only China, which leads, and Mexico, with just slightly higher numbers than Mexico.

According to Pew, Venezuelans seeking asylum are a small share of Venezuelans immigrants in the U.S. Overall there are about 225,000 immigrants from Venezuela here, with 59 percent having lived in the U.S. more than a decade.

General view of the US Embassy in Caracas on March 10, 2015.
General view of the US Embassy in Caracas on March 10, 2015. AFP/Getty Images

The economic crisis has been driving people by the tens of thousands from Venezuela across the border to Colombia in search of food, medicine and other staples. The shortages have led to increased protests and has led to forced rationing, with families given specific days on when they can go to the supermarket.

Related: Hungry Venezuelans Take Desperate Measures in Worsening Crisis

The crisis has put the government of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on shaky ground.

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