Truth-O-Meter patrols the border
By Willoughby Mariano
Published on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.
PolitiFact Georgia has you covered on homeland security.
The Obama administration trumpeted its reputation on border security recently, so last week, we checked claims about Transportation and Security Administration pat-downs and the border fence.
We also switched on our Deal-O-Meter to check whether Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature on Arizona-style immigration enforcement legislation means he kept a campaign promise.
For variety, we checked Deal on a claim about the cost of childhood obesity and presidential prospect Newt Gingrich on President Barack Obama and food stamps.
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Promise: Create an Arizona-style immigration law
Last year, Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal vowed to crack down on illegal immigration.
Earlier this month, Gov. Deal signed House Bill 87. The hotly debated legislation creates requirements for many Georgia businesses to ensure new hires are eligible to work in the United States. It also empowers police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects.
So is the Georgia law an Arizona-style piece of legislation?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has previously reviewed HB 87 and Arizona’s SB 1070 and found some similarities. Both, for example, authorize state and local police to verify the immigration status of suspects when they have "probable cause" to believe they have committed a criminal offense, including any traffic violation.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: "Very, very, very few people get a pat-down" when they go through airport security.
One attendee asked Napolitano about the touchiest -- literally -- of all of topics during a May 7 talk before the Atlanta Press Club: getting patted down at the airport.
He asked whether procedures would improve.
"Well, actually, very, very, very few people get a pat-down," Napolitano replied.
That’s a lot of "verys." We asked the Transportation Security Administration for more information.
TSA spokesman Jon Allen told us that during March, less than 3 percent of air passengers were subject to a pat-down. Allen told us that "on an average day, about 2 million people are screened at TSA checkpoints." Three percent of 2 million is 60,000 people.
That means that over the course of a month, roughly 1.8 million people receive a pat-down.
That doesn’t sound like "very, very, very" few people to us.
Pants On Fire.
Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich: President Barack Obama deserves to be called "the most successful food stamp president in American history" because "47 million Americans are on food stamps."
Fresh off his official announcement that he would be running for president, Gingrich sat for an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" on May 15.
We decided to check out his claim on food stamps and saw two points to investigate. First, are Gingrich’s numbers accurate? And second, is it fair to blame Obama for today's high use of food stamps?
Gingrich was close on the number of Americans receiving food stamps, which are now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The number of beneficiaries is at a record level, and it has risen every month of the Obama presidency.
On the other hand, Gingrich oversimplifies. Much of the reason for the increase was a combination of the economic problems Obama inherited and a long-standing upward trend from policy changes.
President Barack Obama: "The [border] fence is now basically complete."
Obama declared the fence along the border with Mexico "now basically complete" in his El Paso speech on immigration reform May 10. He then mocked Republicans who he said would never be satisfied.
"They'll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat," Obama said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reports that there is now fencing for 649 of the 652 miles described in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. But the vast majority of the requirement was met with vehicle barriers and single-layer pedestrian fence.
The original act specifically called for double-layer fencing, and only 36.3 miles of that currently exists. The act was later amended, however, to allow the DHS to decide what type of fencing was appropriate for different areas.
Obama can make a case that the vehicle barriers and single-layer pedestrian fences meet the amended letter of the law, but we think Obama misleads when he mocks Republican opponents. Barely True.
Gov. Nathan Deal: "The health care price tag for childhood obesity in Georgia is $2.4 billion annually and rising."
Georgia’s weight problem is making us lighter in the wallet. And we’re not just talking about the adults.
Deal gave the $2.4 billion price tag for childhood obesity as he talked May 9 about his plans for a statewide initiative to battle the problem.
His office sent us a 2009 report as proof. It said obesity costs the Peach State about $2.4 billion a year. It did not, however, specify children.
An author of the report said the average annual medical cost for children is $200 -- less than for an adult because they have fewer health problems. We did some more math using a census estimate to come up with our own price tag and came up with $110 million. Not close to $2.4 billion.
Deal’s office acknowledged that the governor misspoke. We therefore rate his claim False.
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