Fundraising with Lies

A TII subscriber recently faxed us a mailer he received from the United States Justice Foundation (USJF), which according to their website was “founded in 1979 by attorneys seeking to advance the conservative viewpoint in the judicial arena.”1 The mailer contains a letter with alarming and false information about undocumented immigrants, and then urges the reader to sign a petition and send money to the organization.

Dear friend,

America is being invaded and most people don’t even realize it’s happening . . . 

The fact is, thousands of illegal immigrants cross our borders each and every day, bringing with them crime, disease, and a desire to change the United States to accommodate their language and culture . . .

The letter opens with three common myths about immigrants. But here are the facts:
  • Three separate and independent studies have confirmed that immigrants in general commit crimes and are incarcerated at a lower rate than native-born citizens.2
  • A commonly cited “statistic” is the claim that undocumented immigrants have brought an upsurge of rare diseases like leprosy, made famous during a broadcast of CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight. That claim has since been debunked by various news sources and organizations, including Truth In Immigration.3
  • All social science data points to the fact that immigrants (both legal and illegal) are integrating into American society as fast as (or faster than) previous generations of immigrants. A recent study sponsored by the Manhattan Institute suggests that while undocumented immigrants lag behind in economic mobility, they “experience relatively normal rates of cultural assimilation.”4
The letter then continues to push the anti-integration myth, saying:

Unlike immigrants of the past who sought to become responsible members of American society, these illegal immigrants reject American society altogether . . .

There is no authoritative social science data that says that undocumented immigrants reject American society. As noted above, countless studies have proven otherwise. Latino immigrants, who make up the majority of undocumented immigrants, overwhelmingly (96%) support teaching English to their children.5

Fabricating a Connection between Immigrants and Terrorism

Another section of the letter attempts to connect undocumented immigrants with the 9/11 terrorists:

[T]here are still seven states – six-and-half-years after 9/11 – that do not require proof of legal status to obtain a drivers’ license. Anyone – even a terrorist – can get a license in those seven states . . .

The hidden assumption is that most of the 9/11 terrorists entered the country illegally, which is categorically false. The 9/11 Commission was very clear about one thing:

As we know from the sizable illegal traffic across our land borders, a terrorist could attempt to bypass legal procedures and enter the United States surreptitiously. None of the 9/11 attackers entered or tried to enter our country this way.6

And the non-partisan Nixon Center collected hard data on 373 charged, convicted, and/or killed terrorists in Western Europe and North America, saying:

In light of the public attention to the specter of illegal terrorist entry through the U.S. southern border, we conducted an extensive search but found not a single entrant from Mexico. In contrast, we found 26 subjects with Canada as a host country, three of whom, including the Millennium Bomber Ahmed Ressam, entered or attempted to enter the U.S.7

On the issue of connecting terrorism to drivers’ licenses, former Homeland Security inspector general Clark Kent Ervin had this to say:

[T]he 9/11 Commission did not recommend that driver's licenses be issued only to people who could prove that they were legally in the USA. Four of the five states that issued licenses to 9/11 hijackers had "immigration status" requirements at the time, and those hijackers were able to prove that they were here legally.8

Shameless Fundraising

The letter ends with a request for financial contributions:

Please help with a gift of $1000, $500, or $250. If you can’t afford that much, a gift of even $100, $50, or $35 will greatly help USJF fight to defend the United States from the flood of illegal immigrants and protect you and your family from the deadly consequences of this invasion!

The claims in this letter are alarmist and without merit or empirical backing. We urge the USJF to stop this type of fundraising based on lies. It is inappropriate and unfitting for an organization that claims to work for “justice.”

For images of the USJF letter, click on one of the pages
: 1, 2, 3, 4.

For an image of the petition requesting contributions, click here.
1. "About Us," United States Justice Foundation, Website
2. See Ruben G. Rumbaut, Ph.D. and Walter A. Ewing Ph.D, “The Myth of Immigrant Criminality: Incarceration Rates among Native and Foreign Born Men,” Immigration Policy Center, Spring 2007; Kristin F. Butcher and Anne Morrison Piehl, “Crime, Corrections, and California: What Does Immigration Have to Do with It, Public Policy Institute of California,” Feb. 2008, Vol. 9, No. 3; Robert J. Sampson, “Rethinking Crime and Immigration,” Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social Worlds, American Sociological Association, Winter 2008
3. "Leprosy and Lou: Fact-Checking Lou Dobbs," Truth In Immigration, March 20, 2008
4. Jacob L. Vigdor, "Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States," Manhattan Institute, May 2008
5. "Hispanic Attitudes Toward Learning English." Pew Hispanic Center, June 7, 2006
6. "Entry of the 9/11 Hijackers into the United States," National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Jan 2004
7. Leiken, Robert S. / Brooke, Steven 2006: “The Quantitative Analysis of Terrorism and Immigration: An Initial Exploration”, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 18, No. 4, p.513
8. Clark Kent Ervin, “Why N.Y. driver's license plan might make us safer,” USA Today, 1 Nov 2007

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund