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In a Feb. 3, 2012, press release, a Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman charged Republicans with using the Latino community "as a wedge to gain support from the extreme wing of their party."
Among the examples of what the release sarcastically calls "GOP Latino-outreach efforts" is this statement: "Ted Cruz forcefully opposes the DREAM Act, which is supported by 85% of Latinos."
The DREAM Act — which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — would provide illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children a path to permanent residency if they attend college or serve in the military.
The Democratic Party’s statement led us to a two-part fact-check.
Let’s start with how Cruz, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, stands on the cited act.
We didn’t have to look far. In a transcribed interview with blogger Sonja Harris of Conservatives in Action that Cruz has on his campaign website, the candidate says: "I do not support the DREAM Act and categorically oppose amnesty. I categorically oppose amnesty, and I strongly support legal immigration for those that have followed the rules and come here to pursue the American dream."
In December 2010, the U.S. House, which then had a Democratic majority, approved a version of the act. The proposal did not make it through the Senate. Critics of the plan, including many Republicans, say it amounts to amnesty for some illegal immigrants.
So, Cruz opposes the act. But is it supported by 85 percent of Latinos?
Fortunately for us, PolitiFact Florida recently looked into a similar claim in an ad from the left-leaning political group Presente Action.
Concentrating on polls, our colleagues found many national ones that looked at general public opinion on issues such as the DREAM Act, and those polls included Latino respondents. But polls on the opinions of Latinos as a group must have enough Latino respondents to be statistically valid, and most general polls do not meet this standard.
In its 2011 National Survey of Latinos, the Pew Hispanic Center found that 91 percent favored the DREAM Act when asked this question: "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 most recent national poll from Latino Decisions, conducted in January 2012 with Univision News and ABC News, asked: "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 an additional 19 percent somewhat supported the law, for a total of 85 percent.
In each poll, the margin of error was about 4 percentage points.
When we asked the Texas Democratic Party for backup information, spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña also pointed us to a February 2011 national poll by Latino Decisions, with impreMedia, publisher of Spanish-language newspapers in Texas, California, New York and other states. Respondents were asked about the DREAM Act in a section of the survey that began: "In December 2010, Congress considered a number of different policies. For each policy that I read, please tell me whether you approve or disapprove and how strongly."
The poll described the DREAM Act as providing "undocumented immigrant children a path to citizenship if they attend college or serve in the U.S. military." The results: 67 percent of respondents said they strongly approved of the legislation and 18 percent said they somewhat approved, for a total — again — of 85 percent. (The margin of error was about 4 percentage points.)
Cruz said in an interview that he does not support the DREAM Act, and three polls over the past 13 months have shown at least 85 percent of Latinos favoring the legislation. We rate the Texas Democratic Party’s statement True.
Texas Democratic Party, news release, "Ted Cruz: Spanish="Language Ghetto," Feb. 3, 2012
Ted Cruz campaign website, interview with Sonja Harris, "Conservatives in Action: Ted Cruz the Squeaky Clean Texas Senatorial Candidate," posted July 18, 2011
Email (excerpt) from Rebecca Acuña, spokeswoman, Texas Democratic Party, Feb. 9, 2012
PolitiFact Florida, Truth-O-Meter item, "Most Hispanics support the DREAM Act, but Marco Rubio does not," Feb. 9, 2012
Latino Decisions, tracking poll results, February 2011
Interview with Matt Barreto, founding partner, Latino Decisions, Feb. 16, 2012
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