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Fact-checking immigration

By Becky Bowers
Published on Thursday, June 20th, 2013 at 4:55 p.m.

As the Senate considers a sweeping immigration bill, here’s a roundup of our recent fact-checks on immigration:

Immigrants are ‘more fertile’: Jeb Bush, former Republican governor of Florida, recently claimed immigration reform would help aging America’s "demographic pyramid." "Immigrants are more fertile," he said. "And they love families and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity."

Using fertility as a synonym for birth rate,  the stats back him up, showing birth rates among foreign-born residents are about 50 percent higher than for U.S.-born women. However, the rates are converging, and they vary widely among immigrant groups. We rated Bush’s statement Mostly True.

Almost every Hispanic supports reform: Former Democratic cabinet member and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said in a May interview that, "almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform."

Reliable polls show strong and consistent majority support for a variety of policies that might be characterized as "immigration reform." In some cases, the level of support reached 90 percent. But while the level of dissent among Hispanics is small, it's not as infinitesimal as Richardson’s comment suggests. We rated his claim Mostly True.

Sen. Marco Rubio, misleading in two languages? U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, recently accused Rubio of contradicting his pledge to put border security before legalization for undocumented immigrants. Rubio "all along has been saying, 'We have to have border security first,’ " Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told conservative WND Radio on June 16, 2013. "And then, he, you know, when he gets on Spanish TV, he ends up saying, 'No, no. That will never get in the way' or, 'Legalization status isn't contingent on border control.' Well, this is outrageous, and no one should believe him."

Rubio emphasized different parts of the bill’s process depending on his audience. But his explanations described the bill’s provisions the same way, in English and in Spanish. We rated Rohrabacher’s claim Mostly False.

More legal immigrants into U.S. than everywhere else combined? U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said in May that "we allow more people into America legally than all other countries on the planet combined."

That’s true only when specifically talking about a small group of countries that have a green-card-like immigration system that provides a path to citizenship. When we compared permanent immigrants in other countries — green-card and permanent-type residents —  we found that his statement wasn’t accurate without significant context. We rated his claim Mostly False.

1986 amnesty assured Obama’s re-election? U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, claimed in May that one of his conservative heroes, President Ronald Reagan, had helped re-elect Barack Obama. "Reagan’s signature on the 1986 amnesty act brought about Barack Obama’s election," King said. The Immigration Reform and Control Act gave legal status to many illegal immigrants who were then residing in the United States.

It’s no secret that long-term growth in the Hispanic population — stemming from overall immigration policies, higher birth rates and other factors — has aided Obama’s electoral prospects. However, very little of this growth stems from the law Reagan signed, and King’s estimate of the number of family members indirectly legalized by the law is far too high. We rated King’s claim False.

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Researchers: Becky Bowers

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