10 fact-checks about immigration in the presidential race
From statements about "anchor babies" to deportation data, illegal immigration has been one of the hottest topics of the 2016 presidential race.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has made several claims related to immigration that have received False and Pants on Fire ratings. We have also fact-checked claims by many other GOP candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, as well as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
Here’s a look at 10 misleading statements about immigration we have fact-checked so far in the presidential race:
Deporting criminals: Bush said, "The federal government right now does not deport criminals." Many criminal illegal immigrants have been released, but it is an exaggeration to say that none are deported. Last year, federal authorities deported about 86,000 illegal immigrants convicted of previous crimes. We rated this claim False.
Anchor babies: Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said "there’s 400,000" anchor babies born in the United States a year, which are "individuals coming to our country and having their children so their children can be U.S. citizens." The figure is actually 300,000, and while the practice happens, it's not possible to draw a broad single conclusion about why these mothers came to the United States. We rated this claim Mostly False.
Trump’s campaign: Trump said illegal immigration "wasn’t a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement." Actually, immigration was a topic before Trump announced, and the issue came up just as often before he announced as after. We rated this claim False.
The Mexican government: Trump said, "The Mexican government ... they send the bad ones over." Setting aside the question of whether Mexicans who come to the United States are "bad" or not, we found no evidence of any Mexican policy that pushes people out of Mexico and into the United States. Instead, economic and family factors drive immigration. We rated this claim Pants on Fire.
The number of illegal immigrants: Trump said the number of illegal immigrants in the United States is "30 million, it could be 34 million." Federal officials say the number is about 11.4 million -- a number backed up by various groups that study immigration in depth. We rated this claim Pants on Fire.
Florida "sanctuary cities": Trump said Florida had five sanctuary cities while Bush was governor. There’s no legal definition of a sanctuary city, but it generally refers to places where local law enforcement officers aren’t required to alert federal authorities to residents who may be in the country illegally. A federal report from 2006, when Bush was governor, didn’t name any Florida cities. We found one list on the Internet that claimed five Florida locations as current sanctuary cities, but the supporting evidence was virtually nonexistent. We rated this claim False.
Prisoners: Trump said "Hundreds of thousands of (illegal immigrants are) going to state and federal penitentiaries." In 2013, there were fewer than 100,000 noncitizens -- legal and undocumented -- in federal and state prisons. We rated this claim Mostly False.
Texas national guard: Perry said, "I deployed the Texas National Guard" to the Texas-Mexico border. "And the policy worked; apprehensions at the border declined 74 percent." His statistic holds up, but Perry didn’t provide, nor did we find proof, that the decrease resulted from the Texas surge. PolitiFact Texas rated this claim Mostly False.
The GOP field: Clinton said, "Not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one." She told voters who want a path to citizenship that there's no one on the Republican side who supports that issue. But there was one when we fact-checked this in May: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. She did have a point that the other dozen or so candidates either have never backed a path to citizenship or have sent mixed signals. We rated this claim Mostly False.
Obama at the border: Walker said that President Barack Obama has not gone to the Texas-Mexico border. Obama certainly hasn’t been a frequent visitor, but as president he did go to the border once, in May 2011 to give a speech on immigration reform. PolitiFact Wisconsin rated this claim False.
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