(NewsNation) — During March, there were more than 220,000 migrant encounters along the U.S. southern border — up to 33% compared to February, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Numbers like these certainly impact our immigration and other governmental systems, but to what extent is sometimes blurred by the partisan lens Americans look through for answers.
Mike Kruger, a NewsNation viewer in Virginia, wanted to know what’s happening along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Niall Stanage, White House columnist with The Hill, joined “Morning in America” to answer his questions regarding unauthorized immigrants or people who cross over illegally.
Q: What we don’t hear is what happens to them when they get to their destination? Where do they go? Where do they end up?
“So it depends on their status and whether they’re intercepted at the first instance. There are people who come into the country to escape detection and simply live in the shadow. They predominantly go to a handful of states: California and Texas being the top two,” Stanage explained.
Stanage said people who are intercepted have a choice to “accept almost immediate deportation or they can claim asylum claim they are fleeing persecution.” If migrants decide to claim asylum, they are detained for a short time, and they have an interview to determine whether they have a credible fear of that persecution. If not, they can appeal that decision. If so, they go into the general asylum process.
“Generally, they are then monitored but not detained for the rest of that time. One of the problems is a ginormous backlog, so those cases can take two to three years to be adjudicated,” Stanage said.
Q: What impact do they have on our resources like Medicaid? School system? Housing? Could you take a look at that for the American public?
“Unauthorized immigrants are not a net drain on the finances of the United States, mainly because most federal benefits they are not eligible for — not eligible for regular Medicaid, for example, not eligible for unemployment benefits,” Stanage said. “But they are eligible for emergency Medicaid; they will be treated if they go to the emergency rooms of hospitals.”
Stanage said one of the big resources that go into unauthorized immigrants is education because children are entitled to K through 12 public education.
The net benefit kicks in payments that are made by people working illegally. This leads to significant payments that are taken in payroll taxes, even if someone is working with a fack social security number.
“By one government estimate last decade, there was about 13 billion a year being paid in by unauthorized workers to that fund, and about 1 billion being taken out. So the actual net gain there to the U.S. Treasury was significant,” Stanage said.
Watch the full interview in the media player above.