PolitiFact Florida's Top 6 Most-Clicked-On Fact Checks Of 2017

Jan 12, 2018

The year that was - 2017 - turned out to be quite the year for news. And quite the year for fact-checks about everything from "fake-news" - last year's catchword - and all sorts of dubious claims.

It started with comments about the size of the crowd at President Trump's inauguration all the way to comments bandied about in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

So at the beginning of the new year, we continue a tradition here at PolitiFact Florida and look at some of the most-clicked-on fact checks from the state.

PolitiFact has a Top 10 list, but in the interest of brevity, let's take a look at the Top 6 fact-checks in Florida with Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida.

6. Hurricane Irma: 5 myths about hurricane prep to forget

As Hurricane Irma approached Florida, PolitiFact Florida debunked five myths about hurricane preparedness. For example, it’s a rumor that taping up windows prevents them from shattering. Doing so can create larger, and more dangerous, shards of glass when the window busts. Plywood and shutters are the best way to go. Another myth: The dishwasher is a safe place to keep valuables you don't want to get wet. Don’t do that.

5. Is being in the United States unlawfully a 'crime'?

During a Florida House subcommittee hearing in March, an associate for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops said that unlawful presence is not a crime, but a civil violation.

We rated that Mostly True. It is generally accurate that the simple act of being in the United States illegally is not, by itself, a crime. Rather, it’s a civil violation that puts the individual at risk for deportation, but not for criminal prosecution. Still, it’s worth noting that someone who is unlawfully present might still have committed a related crime by entering the United States after having been deported, for instance, or entering in an illegal manner.

4. Do undocumented immigrants have constitutional rights?

We rated this Mostly True. Undocumented immigrants have many constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and religion. But they don’t share all the constitutional rights of citizens. For example, some undocumented immigrants in removal proceedings have not gotten due process in court, and they don’t have a right to a government-paid lawyer in immigration court.

3. Is Trump's immigration ban comparable to Obama's Cuba rule change?

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami-Dade County, defended Trump’s executive order banning entry of people from seven countries by comparing it with an action President Barack Obama took on Cuban refugees in his final days in office.

Experts said that Diaz-Balart is comparing two very different actions, so we rated this claim False. Trump’s order is far more broad and temporarily suspended entry for people from seven specific countries, as well as refugees from everywhere.

2. Does the GOP's new health care bill still cover pre-existing conditions, as Trump claims?

In an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation, Trump argued that the GOP’s health care plan covered pre-existing conditions. However, the reality is much more complicated than Trump makes it sound.

While Republican efforts to end Obamacare failed, the amendment in question at the time said that health insurers can’t limit access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but that insurers can charge people more if states agree. In some states, health insurers would be able to charge sicker people more. And experts warned that high-risk pools -- the mechanisms meant to keep premiums lower for sick people -- might not be effective. We rated this claim Mostly False.

1. Did bankrupt Trump golf course in Puerto Rico leave taxpayers on the hook?

We rated this claim Half True. In April, the Florida Democratic Party fired back at President Donald Trump after he accused Democrats of using Puerto Rico’s debt as a bargaining chip before the deadline to settle the federal budget.

The group suggested that Trump shares blame in the island’s economic downfall. A Trump golf resort, the party said, crashed in Puerto Rico and hurt taxpayers. We found that the bankruptcy of the golf resort did leave taxpayers with a bill, and that Trump had pledged to turn things around. However, we found the claim omits certain details about the recession’s impact on the resort and its financial woes years before Trump’s involvement.