Middle-class Venezuelan immigrants are hitting the shores of South Florida increased numbers recently, just as they did when the late socialist President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999. The only difference this time is that the vast majority of them are coming to the United States with far less financial abundance than they did 15 years ago. It is no longer the upper class citizens of Venezuela who are coming to America but the middle class, and they are bringing far less with them, many with little more than the clothes on their backs. Immigration attorney in Miami have reported being inundated with requests for consultation from the city’s Venezuelan community regarding obtaining political asylum or information about alternatives for getting their family members out of Venezuela.
Whereas before many would come to the U.S. to study or work in order to save money and then return to Venezuela, the trend now is to come here to stay. Those who wanted to maintain their upper class lifestyle were far less willing to accept modest living accommodations or to rely on public transportation. Nowadays, however, more and more Venezuelans are taking whatever they can get. Inflation, food shortages, and government oppression are just some of the reasons people in Venezuela simply want to get out and are far less particular about what the United States has to offer or what they are able to bring with them when they come.
The economic discrepancy between those who fled Venezuela 15 years ago and those who have been doing so over the last several months is significant. Most of those who immigrated to Miami came with substantial savings but now they are selling everything they have and using what little money they make from that to start a new life in the United States. The percentage of Venezuelans home buyers in the greater Miami area over the last three years has dropped by fully fifty percent.
One family in particular, the Salamancas, was relatively prominent in their home city of Villa del Rosario where they ran a successful business and worked at a school. However, after Hugo Chavez began implementing his policies throughout the country, the family formally switched their political party affiliation in opposition to Chavez. That is when they began receiving threats over the phone several times every day. They decided to use the tourist visas they had obtained for the members of their family in 2013 and sell their belongings and come to the U.S. in search of freedom from their oppressors.
Upon their arrival they purchased a used car in poor condition and spent $2,400 on the deposit and first month’s rent for an apartment. But it wasn’t long before they found they could no longer afford the apartment and having only tourist visas they were unable to obtain employment and began sleeping in their car.
Situations like that of the Salamancas are becoming increasingly common in post-Chavez Venezuela and it seems as though it will only get worse before it gets better. If you or someone you know is interested in getting information about asylum or would like more information about our services please visit the website of the Austin immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm or call their offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.