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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan February 9, 2012

Most Hispanics support the DREAM Act, but Marco Rubio does not

With speculation that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio may end up in the veep slot on the Republican presidential ticket, a left-leaning political group is taking out ads in Florida to say that the Hispanic vote isn’t automatically his for the taking.

"Marco Rubio just might become the first Latino on the presidential ticket," the ad from Presente Action begins. "With the tea party and others attacking immigrants, does Marco Rubio stand with Latinos?"

The ad goes on to juxtapose polling results against video of Rubio discussing his own political positions.

The ad: "81 percent of Latinos oppose SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law."

Rubio: "Arizona’s going to do what’s in the best interest of the people of Arizona. They have a right to do that, and I respect that."

The ad: "88 percent of Latinos support legalization for undocumented immigrants."

Rubio: "I am not and I will never support -- never have and never will support -- any effort to grant blanket legalization."

The ad: "91 percent of Latinos support the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented youth to attend college."

Rubio: "People in the United States who are here without documents should not benefit from programs like in-state tuition."

The ad concludes, "When it comes to voting for what we care about most, no somos Rubios." Translation: "We’re not Rubios," which flashes as text in English.

The ad is now running on television in Florida, and Presente Action is fundraising off the ad on its website. Roberto Lovato, the group’s co-founder, told us that the ad may run nationally in the future.

We’re putting one statement on our meter -- that 91 percent of Latinos support the DREAM Act and Rubio does not -- but we’ll look at the accuracy of the other claims as well.

A note on methodology: We found many national polls that looked at general public opinion on these issues, and those polls included Hispanic respondents.

But polls on the opinions of Hispanics as a group must have enough Hispanic respondents to be statistically valid, and most general polls do not meet this standard.

However, we were able to find two major polling groups that focused on Hispanics: the Pew Hispanic Center and Latino Decisions. When we asked Presente to back up the ad’s claims, it pointed to various polls from these two groups.

The Arizona law

The ad says that "81 percent of Latinos oppose SB 1070, Arizona’s racial profiling law." That’s a somewhat loaded way to describe the 2010 law, which enlists local police authorities in cracking down on illegal immigration. Supporters of the law have said it seeks to avoid racial profiling.

Most of the polls we found about the Arizona law dated back to 2010, the year the law was passed. Courts have blocked some of the law’s provisions from going into effect, and litigation is ongoing.

Presente pointed us to a 2010 poll from Latino Decisions for the National Council of La Raza and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), two groups that opposed the law. That poll was only for Hispanics in Arizona. It found that 70 percent were strongly opposed, and another 11 percent were somewhat opposed, for a total of 81 percent.

Pew Hispanic Center polled Hispanics nationwide on the issue, though, also in 2010. It found an almost identical level of opposition to the law at 79 percent.

In 2011, Latino Decisions asked Hispanics nationwide if they would support state laws that would "require state and local police to check on immigration status." The poll found 56 percent strongly disapproved and 12 percent somewhat disapproved, for a total of 68 percent. That’s still strong opposition, but slightly lower than results from 2010.

Legalization for undocumented immigrants

The ad claimed that 88 percent of Latinos "support legalization for undocumented immigrants."

The Pew Hispanic Center poll from 2011 asked the question this way: "What should be the priority for dealing with illegal immigration in the U.S. -- a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants; better border security and stronger enforcement of immigration laws; or both should be given equal priority?"

Pew found that 46 percent supported both a path to citizenship and better border security; another 42 percent said just a path to citizenship. So a total of 88 percent supported a path to citizenship overall.

Latino Decisions conducted a poll in January 2012 with Univision News and ABC. It asked what government policy should be toward undocumented immigrants. In this poll, 71 percent supported earned citizenship, 14 percent supported a guest worker program and 11 percent said undocumented immigrants should be considered felons. Adding the answers for legalization of some type, the total is 85 percent.


The ad said, "91 percent of Latinos support the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented youth to attend college." The DREAM Act stands for "Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors."

The DREAM Act would have provided a path to permanent residency for young adults brought to the United States illegally as children. The young people would have to meet certain requirements, such as going to school or joining the military. In some states, they would qualify for in-state tuition at public universities.

The Pew Hispanic Center’s 2011 poll found that 91 percent of Latinos favored the DREAM Act when it asked the question this way: "Thinking about immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States illegally when they were children … Would you favor or oppose a law that would let these young adults become legal residents if they go to college or serve in the military for two years?"

The Latino Decisions 2012 poll asked this way: "Do you support or oppose the DREAM Act, which would provide undocumented immigrant youth a path to citizenship if they attend college or serve in the U.S. military?" It found that 66 percent strongly supported the law, and another 19 percent somewhat supported the law, for a total of 85 percent.

The margin of error for both polls was about 4 percentage points, which makes the results very close.

Rubio’s views

In recent months, Rubio has urged that Republicans tone down heated rhetoric on immigration policy.

"The Republican Party needs to be the pro-legal immigration party," Rubio said in October. "We need to say, 'We believe in immigration, and we think it's good for America.' But it has to be orderly, a system based on law, a system that works."

Still, as a U.S. senator he has opposed the federal DREAM Act and policies that could lead to citizenship for illegal immigrants. On the Arizona law, he initially expressed concern, but later said he was comfortable with changes made prior to it becoming law.

We sent the ad to Rubio’s staff for comment, but we didn’t hear back.

One other interesting point: Latino Decisions asked Hispanic voters in January if they would be more or less likely to vote for the Republican ticket for president if Rubio had the vice presidential spot.

Nationally, 25 percent said they would be more likely to vote for the ticket, while 47 percent said it would make no difference. Another 19 percent said less likely.

Florida Latinos, who are more familiar with Rubio, answered that 43 percent would be more likely to vote Republican with Rubio on the ticket, while 31 percent said it would make no difference. Another 20 percent said less likely.

The ad doesn’t seem to be making electoral predictions. Rather, it seems to be making its factual points and asking viewers to draw their own conclusions.

Our ruling

For the Truth-O-Meter, we’re checking the claim that "91 percent of Latinos support the DREAM Act, which allows undocumented youth to attend college," while Rubio opposes the program. The Pew Hispanic Center’s polling found that to be the case, and Latino Decisions found a very similar high number of 85 percent. As a U.S. senator, Rubio has opposed the DREAM Act. We rate the ad’s statement True.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Presente Action, No Somos Rubios ad, via YouTube, Jan. 27, 2012

Presente Action, No  Somos Rubios, via Presente, accessed Feb. 8, 2012

Interview with Roberto Lovato of Presente, Feb. 6, 2012

Pew Hispanic Center, As Deportations Rise to Record Levels, Most Latinos Oppose Obama’s Policy, Dec. 28, 2011

Pew Hispanic Center, Illegal Immigration Backlash Worries, Divides Latinos, Oct. 28, 2010

Interview with Mark Lopez of the Pew Hispanic Center, Feb. 8, 2012

Latino Decisions, Univision News/ABC/Latino Decisions National Latino Poll Results, January 24, 2012

Latino Decisions, impreMedia-Latino Decisions Tracking Poll Results, June 2011

Email interview with Gabriel Ramon Sanchez of Latino Decisions, Feb. 8, 2012

Tampa Bay Times, On immigration, Marco Rubio urges the right to tone it down, Nov. 15, 2011

Tampa Bay Times, The Buzz: Rubio maintains opposition to DREAM Act, Nov. 19, 2010

The Wall Street Journal, Rubio Faults GOP 'Rhetoric,' Oct. 28, 2011

POLITICO, Marco Rubio takes a hard line on immigration, May 23, 2011

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Most Hispanics support the DREAM Act, but Marco Rubio does not

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