FACT CHECK: 4 Claims From The Third Democratic Debate

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

ABC held the third Democratic presidential debate Thursday night in Houston, where 10 candidates covered topics ranging from health care to immigration.

Chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, news correspondent Lindsey Davis and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos shared moderating duties.

Here are four checks on claims from the debate.

Claim 1: “We didn’t lock people up in cages. We didn’t separate families,” said former Vice President Joe Biden, when asked about deportations during the Obama administration.

The Obama administration did use fenced enclosures to hold families caught crossing the southern U.S. border illegally. There’s even photographic evidence showing the cages in 2014:

Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona, June 18, 2014. CBP provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Ross D. Franklin/Pool

CBP provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Ross D. Franklin/Pool

Several media outlets misattributed the 2014 pictures of immigrants detained in cage-like enclosures to the Trump administration, though they were actually taken during the Obama administration.

In 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over this practice, calling it “inhumane and illegal.”

Family separations occurred during the Obama administration too. However, they did not happen frequently and, according to The New York Times, under limited circumstances, like when authorities cannot establish parentage of the child or when the parent gets criminally prosecuted.

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which was ended by executive order in June 2018, processed illegal immigrants through the criminal justice system, rather than the civil immigration removal proceedings. As a result, children were separated from their parents while they went through the legal process.

Claim 2: “I know that the problem with your plan is that it leaves 10 million people uncovered,” said former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro of Biden’s health care proposal.

This isn’t the first time that Biden’s health care plan has come up on the debate stage. California Sen. Kamala Harris raised issue with it at the second Democratic presidential debate in July.

Biden’s health care plan expands Obamacare to include a public health insurance option and increase federal Affordable Care Act subsidies. The proposal would cover an estimated 97% of Americans, according to his campaign website.

That remaining 3% is likely what Castro refers to when he says Biden’s plan will leave 10 million uninsured of the U.S. approximately 327 million population.

It’s unclear who would be left insured under Biden’s health care proposal, though it might include families who cannot afford to buy coverage but don’t qualify for government subsidies, according to The New York Times.

Claim 3: “Let us be clear, Joe, in the United States of America, we are spending twice as much per capita on health care as the Canadians or any other major country on earth,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The U.S. spent, at $10,586 per capita in 2018, more on health care than any other country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OEDC).

According to the most recent OECD data, health care spending per capita in the U.S. is two or more times higher than that of many member countries, including Canada’s $4,974, but not all of them.

Norway, for instance, spent $6,186 per capita on health care in 2018. The other Scandinavian countries also ranked highly for health care spending that year, with Denmark spending $5,299 per capita and Sweden spending $5,447 per capita.

The country with the second highest health care spending per capita in 2018 was Switzerland at $7,317.

Claim 4: “Only a few weeks ago, the deadliest massacre of Latinos, Latinos, in modern U.S. history happened in this state, in El Paso,” said Univision anchor and moderator Jorge Ramos.

On Aug. 3, a shooter who claimed to be targeting Latino people opened fire on a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 individuals. Numerous media outlets reported that this mass shooting was the deadliest attack on Hispanic people in modern U.S. history, and it does appear to be the case.

“Before the El Paso Massacre happened, the Porvenir Massacre of 1918 was known as the deadliest in the past century,” said Arlinda Valencia, a descendant of a Porvenir Massacre victim, in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Several ranchers and Texas Rangers fatally shot 15 unarmed Mexican men and boys outside a village in Presidio County during that massacre. The group claimed, without evidence, that they had come under fire and that the villagers had been involved in the robbery of a ranch by Mexican bandits. U.S. Army calvary soldiers were also involved in the incident.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Spanish-speaking people were killed as a result of lynchings. Mob violence targeting Latinos was also common.

Trevor Schakohl contributed to this report. 

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

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