Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Democratic Deportation Misinformation

A Democratic super PAC claims that Republican candidates for president are “all on the same page” with Donald Trump. But the ad invites a false conclusion that both Marco Rubio and Trump favor deporting millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. without legal permission.

Priorities USA Action posted its “Meet the Trumps” video online Dec. 9. In a graphic, the video says: “There may still be 14 GOP candidates in the race but they’re all on the same page.”

The ad then juxtaposes video clips of some of Trump’s comments with snippets from three leading Republican candidates: Rubio, Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump and Cruz are both shown opposing granting birthright U.S. citizenship. Carson is shown saying he’s opposed to a Muslim becoming president, after Trump is shown saying he wouldn’t allow Muslims to enter the country. Those two points aren’t the same thing, but at least viewers can evaluate that comparison.

However, in Rubio’s case, the ad invites a false conclusion that Rubio agrees with Trump’s proposal to deport millions of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

First it shows a clip from Trump during a Nov. 11 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, in which Trump says, “You’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely.” Then Rubio is shown saying the following day, on Fox News’ “American Newsroom,” that “we are going to have to deport some people.”

But the fact is, Trump and Rubio are by no means “on the same page” on deportation, as the full context of their words demonstrates.

Trump, earlier in the same “Morning Joe” interview, adamantly repeated that he’d deport anyone who is in the country without legal permission:

MSNBC interviewer, Nov. 11: How do you deport 12 million? How do you deport 12 million illegal immigrants?

Trump: You do it. You do it. Because they’re here illegally, you do it.

But Rubio said on Fox News the very next day that “I do not believe you can round up and deport 11 million people.” Those words were in the very same Fox News interview from which the Democratic super PAC’s ad ripped a few of Rubio’s other words out of context.

Fox News interviewer, Nov. 12: Would you accept that idea [Trump’s “deportation force”] or would you denounce it?

Rubio: …We are going to have to deport some people; if you are not going to enforce your laws, what’s the point of having those laws? Criminals are going to be deported. People that haven’t been here very long are going to be deported. People overstaying visas are going to be deported. That’s how you enforce immigration laws.

The flip side of it is, I do not believe you can round up and deport 11 million people, especially people who have been here 15 years, have not otherwise violated the law, can pass background checks and so forth.

There’s a big gap between deporting millions of people who have been here for years, as Trump says he would do, and deporting “some people” who are criminals, recent arrivals and those overstaying visas, as Rubio proposes.

In fact, convicted criminals, terrorism threats and those who recently crossed the border are currently being targeted for deportation even under the Obama administration’s scaled-back enforcement policy. So Rubio is closer to being “on the same page” with Obama than with Trump on this issue.

The Web video concludes with a graphic saying, “Remember, it’s what they say that matters, not how they say it.”

We agree. Except that what matters is all of what a candidate says, in full context.