January 07, 2016

Obama's mixed record on cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants

Years before efforts to overhaul immigration laws stalled in Congress, President Barack Obama made promises of his own to address illegal immigration.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised to "remove incentives to enter the country illegally by cracking down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

We rated Obama's promise a Compromise in July 2009 after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said companies seeking government contracts would have to use a government database called E-Verify to ensure that their employees are legal. At the same time, she announced that the administration was getting rid of a Bush administration effort to force all types of companies to fire undocumented workers.

Now that Obama is nearing the end of his term, we're taking another look at the progress of Obama's promise. We found that Obama's progress on this promise has been mixed at best.

See how PolitiFact rated Obama's progress on our Obameter.

January 06, 2016

Marco Rubio vs. Ted Cruz on immigration


Marco Rubio insists he and Ted Cruz have the same position on securing the border before even thinking about changing the legal status of millions of illegal immigrants already here.

Cruz says that's revisionist balderdash: Rubio championed the bipartisan path-to-citizenship plan in 2013, which Cruz adamantly opposed.

Neither one tells the full story.

Their fight escalated during a recent GOP debate, when Rubio asked Cruz to explain if he supports legal status for illegal immigrants.

"I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization," Cruz said Dec. 15.

Confused about where Rubio and Cruz stand on immigration? Here are five questions and answers to clear up the fight from PolitiFact Florida.

December 28, 2015

Cubans stranded in Costa Rica shouldn't get 'free entry' into U.S., Jeb Bush says


Costa Rica has moved to deport 56 Cuban migrants stranded along its border on their way to the U.S.

That's a local issue in heavily Cuban-American Miami-Dade County -- which means Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was asked about the issue by a Spanish-language reporter after his Hialeah campaign rally Monday.

"The rule of law must be respected," Bush said. "I don't know their exact condition there, but they don't have -- they shouldn't have, and I don't think they do have -- free entry into this country. We have to have an immigration system based on the law, and if those laws don't work, to change the law."

Bush was also asked about U.S. plans to step up deportations of immigrants in the country illegally, beginning in January.

He gave a similar answer.

"This has to be resolved lawfully," the former Florida governor said. "Congress must pass immigration reform. When I'm president that's exactly what I'm going to do. President Obama has had seven years to work with Congress. He hasn't done it. He wants to have this as part of a political plan to win votes."

December 20, 2015

Marco Rubio: Ted Cruz doesn't get to call himself 'purist' on immigration


Marco Rubio seized on an interview Sunday with CBS News' Face the Nation to bash Republican presidential rival Ted Cruz over immigration.

Rubio defended going after the Texas senator's complicated history with whether immigrants in the country illegally should obtain some sort of legal status, saying it was fair game because Cruz had miscast himself as more ideologically pure than the rest of the GOP candidates.

" I think when you spend your whole time telling people you are a clear talker and you say what you mean, and everyone else is a sellout, but you're the only purist, I think it is fair to say hold on a second," Rubio told host John Dickerson in a pre-taped interview. "Here is where you have been in the past on some issues, and here is where you are now."


November 20, 2015

Rick Scott, GOP govs ask for no more Syrian refugees in letter to Obama

The 27 Republican governors who earlier this week opposed Syrian refugees settling in their states -- including Florida's Rick Scott -- are taking up a united front.

On Friday, they sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to suspend resettlement of refugees from Syria nationwide in light of attacks in France last week.

Other southern governors signed on the list, including Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Greg Abbot of Texas and Nathan Deal of Georgia. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, the only Democrat to join the anti-refugee talk, did not join.

States have no power to refuse refugees, legal experts say. PolitiFact has answered five key questions about Syrian refugees, including about the screening process they undergo before entering the couuntry.

Below is the full text of the letter from the governors. The list of governors is included on the full document here.

Continue reading "Rick Scott, GOP govs ask for no more Syrian refugees in letter to Obama" »

Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim about feds sending Syrians to states with GOP governors

As growing numbers of governors including Florida's Rick Scott were expressing opposition to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their state, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump raised the ante in an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.

Trump charged that the Obama administration is deliberately trying to resettle Syrian refugees in states with Republican governors while sparing states that have Democratic governors.

"They send them to the Republicans, not to the Democrats, you know, because they know the problems," Trump said on Nov. 17, 2015. "In California, you have a Democrat as a governor (Jerry Brown). In Florida, you have Rick Scott (a Republican). So you know they send them to the Republicans because you know why would we want to bother the Democrats? It's just insane. Taking these people is absolutely insanity."

Is the administration sending refugees to Republican-led states but not Democratic ones? In a word, no.

See what Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact found.

PolitiFact: 5 questions about Syrian refugees

Whether the United States should accept Syrian refugees has become an urgent debate in the days since the terror attacks in Paris. At least 30 governors have said they’re against letting refugees into their states because of fears that terrorists could hide among those seeking political asylum.

Civilians are fleeing Syria — where more than 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict — by the thousands. Some have called their migration the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II.

The unrest began in 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, in the wake of the pro-democracy Arab Spring. Assad’s regime responded with violence, and the country spiraled into a civil war. But it isn’t just pro-Assad vs. anti-Assad groups. There are several sects fighting one another, one of which is the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Some have questioned whether one of the ISIS terrorists who participated in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks was a Syrian refugee who resettled in Europe. That fact remains unconfirmed; authorities are still investigating. The six Paris attackers identified so far were French and Belgian nationals. Nonetheless, many American politicians are concerned that allowing Syrian refugees to settle in the United States would leave the country vulnerable.

There are a lot of questions about Syrian refugees coming to the United States. Here are some answers from PolitiFact's Lauren Carroll and Linda Qiu

Miami-Dade mayor wants 'additional assurances' from DC on Syrian refugees


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez wants "additional assurances from federal authorities" about the screening process of Syrian refugees before they are "permitted to settle in our community," a spokesman said Friday.

The statement by communications chief Michael Hernández stops short of backing the White House in an increasingly heated fight over whether the United States faces a terrorism risk from the 10,000 Syrian refugees the Obama administration agreed to accept from the war-torn country. 

Backers of President Barack Obama note the refugees are subject to a lengthy vetting process that's much more rigorous than what most of the more than 70 million international tourists undergo when visiting the United States each year. Critics of the Democratic president, including Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, say the country can't afford to risk a less-than-airtight screening process in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. 

Scott recently ordered his social-services agency not to cooperate with federal authorities wanting to put Syrian refugees in the Sunshine State. 

It's not clear what role a Miami-Dade mayor might have in the refugee process. Gimenez, a Republican facing reelection next year in heavily-Democratic Miami-Dade, has visited the Obama White House multiple times. His statement seems to leave open the possibility of Gimenez giving a thumbs up to welcoming Syrians after a briefing. 

"Miami-Dade County is a welcoming community which is home to people from all over the world including many with refugee status," Hernández said. Gimenez "would appreciate additional assurances that the screening process is as good as advertised."

Miami-Dade mayor wants "additional assurances" from DC on Syrian refugees

November 19, 2015

New Spanish-language TV ad targets Republicans over immigration


A political action committee for a major national labor union released a new Spanish-language television ad Thursday hitting several Republican presidential candidates, including the only two Hispanics seeking the job, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

The groups behind the ad are iAmerica Action and SEIU-COPE, the Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education. The union has endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.

The ad, which will air nationally on networks Univison and Telemundo, condemns Republicans' opposition to the actions President Barack Obama took using executive authority that protect some immigrants in the country illegally from deportation. The actions are known as DACA and DAPA; DAPA, which Obama pushed a year ago, has not been implemented due to an ongoing lawsuit.

"One year ago President Obama took historic action, standing up for all families striving to achieve the American Dream," said Rocio Saenz, executive vice president of SEIU International and president of iAmerica Action’s President. "Since then, we have reached one full year of consistent attacks against Latino and immigrant families. It's simply inexcusable."

The groups say they will spend six figures on the ad campaign, which include digital ads in English in Florida, Nevada, Colorado and Texas.

The spots quote Rubio, Cruz and Donald Trump -- and also picture Jeb Bush. All have said they would end DACA (and DAPA, if it ever moves forward). Bush has generally taken a more empathetic tone toward immigrants, and Rubio has indicated he might let the program stand for a while before canceling it, to give Congress some time to reform immigration laws. He says he would cancel it even if Congress doesn't act, however.

Here's the English-language script:

Rubio: We need to get rid of all these illegal executive orders the President has put in place.

Cruz: I think amnesty is wrong.

Rubio: DACA is going to end.

Trump: They have to go.

Voice over: These candidates may be different, but their messages are all the

same: No to DAPA, no to DACA, np to immigrant families.

Now it’s time for our community to say no.

We will not accept hate. We will not allow anti-immigrant attacks.

We will not support the status quo.

Because if they win, we lose.

Here's the Spanish-language spot:


November 18, 2015

'It's offensive,' new web ad says of immigration rhetoric from Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio's harder line on immigration is the subject of a new digital ad from American Bridge and Latino Victory Fund. "Yes, people will have to be deported," Rubio is heard saying.

The ad also features Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The groups have not yet provided details on where the ad will be seen.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times