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Fact-checking the Democratic debate in Miami

Posted: 9:41 PM, Mar 09, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-10 07:34:20-05
Fact-checking the Democratic debate in Miami
We will update this story with more fact checks as they become available.
 
The discussion was heated in Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, with presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparring for the Hispanic vote in Miami.
 
It was a debate largely focused on proving who is more committed to immigration reform, held just days before Florida's crucial primary election.
 
We’ve teamed up with PolitiFact to analyze some statements made during the debate and rate them as True or False.
 
Fact Check #1: Clinton said in regards to her private email server scandal, “my predecessors did the same thing."
 
Moderator Jorge Ramos of Univision asked Clinton where she divined permission for her email set up as Secretary of State, and whether she had a different set of expectations for herself than she did for her employees.
 
"I’m going to give the same answer I’ve given for many months," Clinton replied. "It wasn’t the best choice. I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed, and as I’ve said and now has come out, my predecessors did the same thing, and many other people in the government."
 
One issue with Clinton’s statement is that only three other former secretaries have held the job during the prominence of electronic communications.
 
Two of those people -- Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright – were not habitual users of e-mail. 
That leaves Powell, who did in fact use a personal e-mail address.
 
However, there’s a big difference: Clinton hosted her email on a private server located in her home. Powell did not.
 
Our ruling?
 
Mostly False – The claim is misleading, as Powell – the only other secretary to use email regularly – never used a private server kept at his home. 
 
Read the full report here .
 
Fact Check #2: Sanders said, "Secretary Clinton prevailed upon the governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who wanted to do the right thing and provide driver's licenses to those who are undocumented. She said 'don't do it.' And New York state still does not do it."
 
It happened as the candidates sparred on each other’s immigration records. Clinton bashed Sanders for opposing a 2007 immigration bill, prompting him to fire back.
 
PolitiFact looked into Sanders' claim.
 
It found that back in 2007, Clinton indeed could not make up her mind on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. And she did support Spitzer when he decided to drop his driver’s license proposal.
 
It’s important to note that Clinton has supported driving permits for illegal immigrants as part of her current presidential campaign
 
Our ruling? 
 
Mostly True – Years back, Clinton did oppose driver’s license for illegal immigrants.
 
Fact Check #3: Sanders said that Clinton backed sending undocumented kids home.
Sanders aimed to show that he, not former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is the better friend of undocumented immigrants.
 
He claimed that in Vermont, he backed state driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Conversely, Clinton opposed it in New York, he said.
 
He recalled a period in 2014 when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors surged across the border.
 
"One of the great human tragedies of recent years is children came from Honduras where there's more violence than in any place in this country, and they came into this country," he said. "And I said welcome these children into this country. Secretary Clinton said, send them back."
 
The Sanders campaign said they got their information from an interview Clinton gave to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in June 2014, text viewable below. 
 
Amanpour: "Should they be able to stay here? It's safer."
 
Clinton: "Well -- it may be safer but that's not the answer. I do not -- "
 
Amanpour: "Should they be sent back?"
 
Clinton: "Well, first of all, we have to provide the best emergency care we can provide. We have children 5 and 6 years old who have come up from Central America. We need to do more to provide border security in southern Mexico."
 
Amanpour: "So, you're saying they should be sent back now?"
 
Clinton: "Well, they should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns whether all of them should be sent back. But I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families."
 
It appears that sending the kids back was an outcome Clinton supported if the government could find responsible adults to care for them.
 
PolitiFact explains, “It should be noted that at the time, the administration actively pursued a policy to dissuade children and teenagers in Central America from attempting the trip in the first place. The government had open letters printed in local newspapers and paid for advertizing that dispelled any myth that these young people would be allowed to stay if they could get across the border. In July 2014, the White House signaled that it would seek funds to expedite the return of most of the children stopped at the American border.”
 
Our ruling?
 
Mostly True – While Clinton did say that the kids should be sent back, she did not say they should be sent back no matter what – only if the government could first identify responsible adults.
 
Fact Check #4: Speaking of youth employment, Bernie Sanders said, "If you look at Latino kids between 17 and 20 who graduated high school, 36 percent of them are unemployed or underemployed. … African-American kids are unemployed or underemployed to the tune of 51 percent."
 
PolitiFact analyzed Sanders’ claim.
 
It noted that the most commonly used unemployment-rate statistic is not as high for each group as Sanders indicated. 
 
The most readily available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics covers the age range from 16 to 19, which isn’t identical but gives a quick approximation.
 
For whites in that age range, the official unemployment rate in February 2016 was 13.9 percent. Hispanics saw 15.6 percent unemployment, while African-Americans saw 23.3 percent.
 
While the official unemployment rate shows that African-American youth unemployment is the highest, while Hispanic unemployment trails. 
 
Still, the levels for each group are lower than what Sanders said.
 
Sanders’ camp pointed PolitiFact to research published in June 2015 by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-of-center think tank. The numbers in the report match what Sanders said at the debate.
 
However, that data uses different measurements, limiting its reach to high school graduates who were not enrolled in further schooling, among other things.
 
Our ruling?
 
Mostly True – Sanders’ general point is correct, though the numbers – which held more merit months ago -- are off.