SPECIAL REPORT: American Legion Re-Publishes Inaccurate Immigration Booklet

In April 2008, the American Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans service organization, launched a “national education effort” to inform its members and the general American public about immigration. As part of the campaign, the Legion distributed a booklet titled “A Strategy to Address Illegal Immigration in the United States” and instructed its 2.6 million members to start a “national dialogue” on the subject.

Unfortunately, significant portions of the booklet were factually inaccurate, misleading, and/or plagiarized from unreliable sources. Along with the American GI Forum (AGIF), MALDEF contacted the American Legion and brought to their attention the various inaccuracies contained in the immigration booklet.

The American Legion took note of our concerns and informed us that the booklet would be removed from the Legion website and replaced with an “updated” version. Without further communication with MALDEF or AGIF, the American Legion re-published its “updated” booklet eight months after its original report. While the American Legion has removed some of the most egregious errors in the original report, the booklet still contains several factual inaccuracies and misleading statements, including:
  • A claim, taken from a collapsed U.S. brokerage firm, that the undocumented population could be as high as 20 million. Leading demographers have criticized the claim for relying on scant anecdotal evidence.
  • A claim, without any evidence, that “the poor, minorities, children, and individuals with little education” are “victims” of illegal immigration.
  • A claim that laws granting in-state tuition to undocumented students deny the same benefit to citizens, even though the laws are specifically written to include anyone who meets the specific requirements.
  • A fake quote incorrectly attributed to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that Congress could easily reverse a Supreme Court decision that granted education rights to undocumented children. Such a reversal would require a constitutional amendment.
The Southern Poverty Law Center also reviewed the updated booklet, and took issue with several other claims from the Legion booklet, which can be viewed here.

MALDEF is disappointed and confused as to why the American Legion has so irresponsibly placed itself into the immigration debate. Instead, the Legion should focus its efforts on taking care of American veterans, many of whom are of Latino descent, and many of whom come from mixed-status families.

Below are several documents related to the American Legion immigration booklet, including the original rebuttal submitted to the American Legion in June 2008, and the two versions of the Legion booklet.

AGIF-MALDEF Rebuttal to the Legion Booklet

Legion Booklet published in April 2008

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund