Political science, economics experts explain possible reasons behind current influx in asylum seekers

Two men from South America say crime, instability and economy forced them to leave their homes

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is seeing an influx of individuals fleeing Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. Experts and migrants tell KSAT's Allysa Cole one of the reasons is bigger than politics and crime.

SAN ANTONIOData released from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week reflects a notable increase in asylum seekers from three Latin American countries.

Data shows a 175% increase in individuals seeking refuge from Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua between August 2021 and August 2022.

Jon Taylor, a political science professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, believes there’s a possible connection between migration influx and the current Biden administration policy.

“Mexico agreed to not allow migrants from Honduras, from El Salvador, and from Central America to come to the United States. There’s nothing in the agreement about Nicaragua or Cuba and Venezuela,” Taylor said.

KSAT 12 also spoke with an economics expert from Trinity University, who said global inflation could also be a factor pushing migration toward the United States.

“Venezuela has had enormous inflation rates, thousands of percent. So people flee that kind of situation,” said David MacPherson, an economics professor at Trinity University.

Joel Maldonado said the economic situation is a big part of the reason why he and his family fled to Texas from Venezuela.

“Twelve dollars a week. You can’t even survive on that. Who is going to survive on $12,” he said.

Maldonado said the daily salary in his home country was only enough to buy rice and flour for groceries, about $2 a day.

Kevin Barrientes, who was also seeking asylum from Venezuela, said crime was a driving factor that forced him to leave home. He hopes to make a better life for himself in the U.S.

“Everybody has a right to say, ‘I have the opportunity to live well,’” Barrientes said.

The Biden Administration has not announced any plans to approach this influx differently compared to others in the past.


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About the Authors:

Allysa Cole is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in September 2022. She previously worked in the Rio Grande Valley at KGBT, KRGV and Azteca Valle. She started her career at WHPM FOX23 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, after graduating from University of Southern Mississippi. Allysa is a Detroit native.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.