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Question: Is Joe Biden is giving smartphones away to illegal border crossers?

Answer: Yes.


The phones have an app called Smartlink, which is used for tracking people. Part of the tracking system is that they must take a selfie, their location is identified through GPS, and both are sent to ICE to verify their location. The phones do not have the capability to make personal phone calls, check social media or browse the internet. The device cannot be used for anything else.


Question: Do asylum seekers automatically get free healthcare?

Answer:  No.

Some asylum applicants can purchase insurance through ACA, but do not qualify for either Medicaid or CHIP. In Colorado, immigrants who do not meet legal status requirements do qualify for Health First Colorado, which is Emergency Medicaid. This allows them to be treated for life-threatening emergencies and pregnancy/ delivery.


Some states are creating state-level programs for healthcare that is accessible by anyone, regardless of status. Colorado does not have one per se, but many immigrants (as well as anyone who is not covered by Medicaid, CICP, or CHIP+) use the Denver Health Financial Assistance Program (DFAP), which runs several clinics across the Denver Metro area and does require legal status. This is not health insurance, and clients do pay for services and prescription drugs. The cost varies, as it is calculated using a sliding scale. 


Question: Do the children of asylum seekers qualify for free schooling?

Answer: Yes, all children are required to go to school in the United States.


Question: How much does Colorado spend on children who don’t speak English?

Answer: ½ of 1% of our State Education Budget.


In Colorado, we spend $16.8M on English language learners. Our total 2020-2021 budget for education is $7.8B. Therefore, ESL programs represent about 2% of our education budget, and ½ of 1% of our total $34.1B state budget. English-speaking students in poverty receive about 4x this amount. 


Question: Do asylum seekers get free or reduced housing?

Answer: No.


Asylum seekers do not qualify for any housing benefit, including TANF. After the immigration judge hears their case and grants them asylum, they qualify for all benefits available to formally designated “refugees”, however the process takes approximately 3+ years right now. 


Question:  Do asylum seekers get free food?

Answer: Some.


Pregnant mothers, nursing mothers, and children under 5 qualify for WIC.  Asylum seekers do not qualify for SNAP.


Question: Do asylum seekers pay taxes?

Answer: Yes.


They pay taxes on income just like everyone else. Asylum seekers can apply for an Employment Authorization Document 6 months after filing their asylum application, as well as a Social Security Number (SSN). It is estimated that 50% - 75% of the undocumented pay income taxes.


Anyone can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Number (ITN) in order to legally pay taxes, even if they do not qualify for a SSN because they do not have legal status. When they file their taxes, most tax credits are not available to them depending on their status or the fact that they are using an ITN instead of a SSN.


They pay the same taxes that anyone else does. This includes not only Federal and State taxes, but also sales taxes, state and local taxes, and property taxes. In Colorado, people with ITNs paid approximately $140M in state and local taxes in 2017, when the following report was written.


Even though they pay Social Security and Medicaid, they will never qualify to receive benefits unless they become citizens.

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