Peru Admits More Than 6,700 Venezuelans in New Daily Record

(Bloomberg) -- The number of Venezuelans entering Peru set a new daily record of 6,708 on Wednesday, exceeding the number of migrants in the caravan making its way toward the U.S that’s become a target for President Donald Trump ahead of the critical midterm elections.

Thousands of Venezuelans hastened their journey to Peru before a Oct. 31 deadline to qualify for a special work permit, leading to long lines at the Peruvian border with Ecuador earlier this week.

While the prospect of up to 6,500 migrants heading to the U.S. largely from Central America has become a major political issue in the days before Americans go to the polls Tuesday, the influx of an even greater number into Peru this week barely registered on politicians’ radar. The last-minute surge boosted the number of Venezuelans in the country to about 550,000, the majority of whom have arrived this year, Roxana del Aguila, head of the Peruvian immigration office, told Radio Programas Friday.

Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Oct. 30 that U.S. authorities are tracking the caravan of refugees, currently estimated at around 3,500 people, as well as another group between Guatemala and Mexico of about 3,000 people. The United Nations refugee agency has said the total number in the caravan may exceed 7,000.

Peru is the second-biggest recipient of Venezuelan migrants after Colombia though arrivals slowed after the government began requiring them to carry passports. Latin American governments met in Bogota on Wednesday as they map out a response to the region’s largest-ever migration crisis, triggered by Venezuela’s economic collapse.

Venezuelans entering Peru before Nov. 1 have until the year’s end to apply for the permit, which allows them to work legally and access health benefits. The authorities have issued about 125,000 of the permits and are processing applications for 250,000 more, del Aguila said.

Arrivals dropped sharply Thursday as the deadline passed, with just 500 Venezuelans entering Peru, according to Lima-based El Comercio.

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