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Hillary Clinton addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 21, 2016. Hillary Clinton addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 21, 2016.

Hillary Clinton addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 21, 2016.

By Jacqueline Tempera April 24, 2016

Clinton reaches too far on immigration claim

In a new radio ad in Spanish, Hillary Clinton's campaign champions her work on immigration reform and says she's been "standing with Latino families in Rhode Island and across the country for her entire career."

"In Rhode Island, we come from all over. Our diversity is our strength," the campaign says in the ad.

The announcer continues, "She is the only candidate who has stood by our community and immigration reform from the beginning."

Ahead of Tuesday's primary, we thought this was an important issue to nail down. Has Hillary Clinton stood by Latino voters "from the beginning"? Is she the only candidate who has?

Let's tackle the Republicans first.

Ted Cruz

In an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News in February, Ted Cruz said he would forcibly deport all of the country's undocumented immigrants by sending "law enforcement to apprehend them and send them home." He backs plans to build a U.S.-Mexico border fence, and wants to end birthright citizenship, according to an NPR report.

We emailed Ted Cruz's campaign three times and asked for more information. They never got back to us.

John Kasich

At an August town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Gov. John Kasich said "it is not practical nor is it I think desirable" to deport immigrants en masse, The New York Times reported. But Ohio, where Kasich is governor, is part of a multi-state lawsuit blocking President Obama's 2014 executive order that would offer temporary legal status to millions.

We exchanged 14 emails with Rob Nichols, Kasich's press secretary, hoping for clarification. He said we're "testing the wrong part of the sentence" and declined to provide information about Kasich's record until we established what Clinton meant by "from the beginning." We told him what she meant — the beginning of her career — and he said "If I can prove that Hillary hasn't always stood by that community, why wouldn't that suffice?" and then asked "Why do we matter?" Then he stopped responding.

Donald Trump

Well, there's the wall. Also his insistence that Mexico is sending the United States "drugs, crime, and rapists." Enough said.

Bernie Sanders

Sanders has a strong record on immigration issues, Warren Gunnels, his senior policy advisor, replied. Sanders supports "comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for 11 million people today who are living in the shadows," the senator said in a MSNBC Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire in February.

He voted for the Dream Act in 2010, which would have legalized immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. He also supported the so-called "Gang of Eight" bill in 2013. This bipartisan legislation created a path for people already in the United States, focused on reducing visa backlogs, and improved work visa options for low-skilled workers.

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While he was in the House of Representatives in the '90s, he voted against House Amendment 778, which would have to prohibited undocumented people's access to Federal Emergency Management Agency's emergency food and shelter programs. He voted for Amendment 968 to H.R. 2202, which removed a section barring "illegal aliens from receiving public assistance."

In 2006, he voted against the Immigration Law Enforcement Act, which allowed local police to aid in "enforcement of immigration laws, to provide for effective prosecution of alien smugglers, and to reform immigration litigation procedures.

Hillary Clinton

We asked Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for Hillary for America, to provide evidence to substantiate the ad's claims.

Schwerin told us that while in law school, Clinton worked with Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children's Defense Fund. She completed research on education and health of migrant children that would later be used in Senate hearings investigating the living and working conditions of farm workers.

He also told us about her job on George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign, where she worked closely with Franklin Garcia, a well-respected union leader, registering Latino voters in south Texas, which was chronicled in a Buzzfeed article about her ties to the Latino community.

While serving in the Senate, Clinton co-sponsored the Safe, Orderly, Legal Visas and Enforcement Act of 2004 with Sen. Edward Kennedy. Clinton co-sponsored the Dream Act in 2003, 2005 and 2007, which helped give immigrant students access to higher education, among other things.

As Secretary of State in May 2011, Clinton called immigrants a "source of vitality" for the U.S. at the Council of the Americas 41st Washington Conference. She also supported Obama's commitment to comprehensive immigration reform during those remarks.

During the campaign, Clinton has stressed that Sanders voted against the comprehensive immigration reform bill brought by Arizona Sen. John McCain and the late Sen. Kennedy six times. She voted yes.

But, explaining that vote in 2007, Sanders said "it made no sense" to bring millions of "guest workers" into the country when it could drive down wages of U.S. employees.

Gunnels, in a recent email, said Sanders also thought the bill "lacked badly needed protection" for immigrant voters and noted that Hispanic advocacy groups such as The League of United Latin American Citizens, The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and The American Immigration Lawyers Association also opposed the bill.

Drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants is another issue that flared on the debate stage last month in Miami.

Clinton says she supports opening up driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. So does Sanders. But in 2007, as Sanders pointed out in the debate, Clinton said as president she would not support that.

 Our ruling

Hillary Clinton has long supported the immigrant community: from law school to the Senate to the Cabinet, and she's built a strong record of what her ad calls "immigration reform."

She may well have been at it "from the beginning," but to say she is the "only" candidate supporting "immigration reform" over a career is to minimize Sanders' position on the issue.

Hillary's campaign can trace her support back to law school. As for the "beginning" for Sanders, we don't know what positions he took as a young socialist, but we can track his immigration record back to beginning of his legislative career in Washington.

Sanders' voting record and his immigration reform plan show consistent support for a path to citizenship, despite his opposition to the 2007 bill. And remember, Clinton herself seemed to stumble on drivers' licenses in 2007.

Because the statement contains some element of truth, but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, we rate it Mostly False.

Our Sources

Email from Hillary For America, "Diversidad," April 18, 2016., "Diversidad," accessed April 21, 2016.  

Email interview with Rob Nichols, press secretary for John Kasich, April 18, 2016.

Email interview with Warren Gunnels, policy director for Bernie Sanders, April 18, 2016.

Email interview with Josh Schwerin, spokesman for Hillary for America, April 19, 2016., "Ted Cruz on his illegal immigration stance," accessed April 21, 2016., "Conservatives Need to Redefine Themselves as More Caring, John Kasich Says," accessed April 21, 2016., "Undocumented Immigrants Beg Ohio Governor To Protect Their Families From Deportation," accessed April 21, 2016.

State of Texas, et al vs. The United States of America, et al. Civil No. B-14-254., "Donald Trump Goes After Immigrants Again, Claiming To Have Facts," accessed April 21, 2016., "Pay for the Wall," accessed April 21, 2016., "Hillary Clinton Has Deep History With Latinos And There’s Not A Lot The GOP Can Do About It," accessed April 21, 2016., "Remarks: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 41st Washington Conference," accessed April 21, 2016., "Sanders and immigration? It's complicated," accessed April 21, 2016., "Sanders congressional record under scrutiny by Clinton," accessed April 21, 2016., "Transcript Democratic Debate," accessed April 21, 2016., "Safe, Orderly, Legal Visas and Enforcement Act of 2004," accessed April 21, 2016., "DREAM act," accessed April 21, 2016., "Bernie Sanders says that Hillary Clinton opposed driver's licenses for illegal immigrants," accessed April 21, 2016., "Where The 2016 Candidates Stand On Immigration, In One Chart," accessed April 21, 2016., "A Fair and Humane Immigration Policy," accessed April 21, 2016. "Bernie Sanders," accessed April 21, 2016.



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