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- The post added words Warren didn’t say and severely edited those she did.
- In her actual answer, Warren contrasted enforcement that targets those who have or might commit violence, and enforcement that separates small children from their parents.
The 2018 murder of Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, and the subsequent arrest of an undocumented immigrant became a flashpoint in the immigration debate. Strong feelings over the tragedy have targeted Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
One Facebook post highly and misleadingly edited Warren’s comments about the Tibbetts murder.
The post includes two pictures of Tibbetts and has this text:
"So Elizabeth Warren was asked about Mollie Tibbetts being murdered by an illegal immigrant….. Her reply was: ‘I know this is hard for her family, but they have to remember that we need to focus on real problems like illegal immigrants not being able to see their kids’ Let that sink in."
Anyone reading that could easily see Warren as dismissive of a murder. But that post chopped up her actual response and changed her meaning.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
In a Aug. 22, 2018, interview, CNN anchor John Berman asked Warren this question: "Mike Pence and the president have suggested the immigration laws need to be stronger so that people like this man who was accused of this murder were not in the country. Your reaction?"
Here’s what Warren actually said. (The bolded words are the ones used in the Facebook post.)
"I'm so sorry for the family and I know this is hard, not only for the family, but for the people in her community, the people throughout Iowa.
"But one of the things we have to remember is we need an immigration system that is effective, that focuses on where real problems are.
"Last month, I went down to the border and I saw where children had been taken away from their mothers, I met with those mothers who had been lied to, who didn't know where their children were, who hadn't had a chance to talk to their children, and there was no plan for how they would be reunified with their children.
"I think we need immigration laws that focus on people who pose a real threat and I don't think mamas and babies are the place we should be spending our resources. Separating a mama from a baby does not make this country safer."
Out of the 157 words Warren said, the post used 16 (17 if you count its shift of "focuses" to "focus"). It added words she didn’t say, such as "illegal immigrants not being able to see their kids." It added small words, such as "they" to have her purported quote make grammatical sense and match the meaning the people behind the post wanted to create.
The Facebook version omits Warren’s words about focusing "on people who pose a real threat." Warren contrasted enforcement that targets those who have or might commit violence, and enforcement that separates small children from their parents — the "zero tolerance" policy under the Trump administration in 2018.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire.
Welcometopoliticallyincorrect, Facebook post, Oct. 18, 2019
CNN, New Day, Aug. 22, 2018
GOP war room, CNN Warren interview, Aug. 22, 2018
Factcheck.org, Bogus Warren Quote Ignites Immigration Anger, Nov. 7, 2019
Snopes, Did Elizabeth Warren Say of Mollie Tibbetts’ Slaying, ‘We Need to Focus on Real Problems’?, Oct. 18, 2019
Email exchange, Saloni Sharma, spokeswoman, Warren for President, Feb. 14, 2020
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