Immigration Reform: Deciphering Fact From Fiction

Democrats, Republicans have taken liberties with the truth this election cycle.

October 25, 2010, 9:53 PM

Oct. 26, 2010 — -- In a Univision radio program that aired Monday, President Obama told the largely Hispanic audience of listeners: "I'm going to keep my promise on immigration reform."

Though White House officials said the president was referring to a broad promise to pass changes in immigration law, activists say Obama already has broken his only explicit immigration promise -- a vow that was made during his run for president, when he was appealing to Latinos for votes.

"What I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year, an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I'm promoting," Obama told interviewer Jorge Ramos in May 2008 during an appearance on a Univision television show.

That never happened. So is Obama going to keep his promise on immigration reform, as he said this week? Activists say he already broke it.

On the airwaves, Republicans are misrepresenting Democrats' records on immigration reform, sometimes with ads that descend into crude caricatures.

In an ad from Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, a narrator all but blames Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-La., for illegal immigration.

"Charlie Melancon. Thanks to him, we might as well put out a welcome sign for illegal aliens," the ad says as stereotypes of Mexicans are shown. "Melancon voted to make it easier for illegals to get taxpayer-funded benefits and actual welfare checks."

The ad misleadingly uses party-line procedural votes on "motions to recommit" to make the case that Melancon wants to open up the borders, even though the conservative immigration-control group NumbersUSA says that Vitter and Melancon have similar records on the issue, as the Times-Picayune noted.

And then there's the ad made by Nevada Republican Sharron Angle's campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

'Special Tax Breaks to Illegal Aliens': Not

"He votes to give special tax breaks to illegal aliens and to give illegals Social Security benefits," the ad says. says both charges are false.

For their part, Democrats have sought to portray their GOP opponents as espousing conservative positions they don't actually hold.

In a Web ad, Florida Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek says that Republican Marco Rubio backs "solo Ingles" or English-only, but Politifact rates that charge false.

In a Univision debate last month, Rubio said he supported immigrations learning English but "that doesn't mean English only."

In California, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown is running a Spanish radio ad telling listeners that his GOP rival Meg Whitman supports Arizona's immigration law -- which requires police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally -- but she doesn't.

"I have said I was not for the Arizona law," Whitman said. "If such a law came to me, I would veto it."

Just because you make a false charge in another language doesn't make it any less false.

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