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Lie about ‘Illegal Alien Voters’ Goes Viral on the Web

By Leah Nelson on November 9, 2010 - 5:18 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

Nativists were primed to believe something dastardly was afoot with the approaching 2010 elections. ALIPAC’s William Gheen warned that undocumented immigrants were planning to commit massive voter fraud with the help of the Democratic Party machine. An Arizona group called Ban Amnesty Now put out an appeal for people to monitor the polling stations for any suspicious activity.

The only missing element: evidence. So an Oct. 28 Internet report by right-wing-friendly columnist Jim Kouri that the U.S. Department of Justice was ignoring massive voter fraud by undocumented immigrants could not have come at a more opportune time.

Kouri’s headline, “Voter Fraud: Illegal Alien Voters Ignored by Obama Justice Department” and first sentence, “The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 28.2 percent of Hispanic voters in the 2008 election were immigrants,” told a certain type of reader everything he needed to know: Almost three out of 10 Hispanic voters two years ago were illegal aliens.

Unfortunately for the nativists, that would be an utterly false conclusion. A careful reader would notice the disconnect between the headline and leading sentence of Kouri’s article – specifically, that “illegal alien” does not equate with “immigrant,” as an immigrant can be a naturalized citizen. But Kouri’s story looked like the revelation enthusiastic nativists lusted after to validate their paranoia about illegal immigration, and before long, it had spread like a wildfire in the nativist blogosphere.

A Google search suggests hundreds of Internet sites re-posted, linked or referred to Kouri’s non-scoop. Kouri himself appears to have posted it himself in several places.

It turned up on BorderFireReport.com, whose front page provides links to the anti-Semitic, anti-government artwork of David Dees, and Examiner.com, where amateur journalists to post articles in their areas of “expertise.” (Kouri calls himself a “National Law Enforcement Examiner.”)

It was reposted on ConservativeCrusader.com alongside headlines like “Pelosi and Her Marxist Dems to Continue Fight against American People.” Cliff Kincaid, a far-right polemicist who rails against everything from the New World Order to the purported homosexual agenda, ran it prominently on his AccuracyInMedia.org website. Gheen’s nativist anti-immigrant lobbying organization, ALIPAC, and myriad other fellow travelers also picked up Kouri’s column and headline.

Reposted on SodaHead.com, a forum for discussion of all things political, Kouri’s story generated outrage among readers.

“Our election system has become a sham, and it’s at the hands of the liberals; they have stolen the most sacred action of a US citizen. We must get this country back,” brayed one commenter.

“28.2 percent of Hispanic voters in 08 were ILLEGAL! We can’t just let this stand people! We have to stop this nightmare!” shrieked another.

Nightmarish indeed: Just like a nightmare, Kouri’s article inspired panic – while having only the most tenuous connection to reality.

Kouri accurately attributed the Census statistic to a story by Steven Camarota, research director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which publishes hordes of studies on the evils of immigration. “The dirty little secret,” Kouri wrote, “is there exists an enormous amount of proof that illegal aliens are being registered to vote and they’re being registered as Democrats. And our political leaders know it.”

But the only statistic Kouri actually cited was Camarota’s – a statistic that had nothing to do with voter fraud. The immigrants Camarota was writing about are naturalized U.S. citizens legally registered to vote.

Camarota’s story appeared as part of a discussion of why, according to a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, Latino voters ranked immigration as only their fifth-most important issue in the 2010 midterms. “This is not surprising when one considers that only 28.2 percent of Hispanic voters in the 2008 election were immigrants themselves. The overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters were born in this country,” Camarota wrote in “The Hispanic Vote in the Upcoming 2010 Elections.” He concluded, “The large share of Hispanic voters who do not have a direct personal experience with immigration may help explain why the issue often ranks relatively low in importance for this population.” Whether or not Camarota’s analysis holds water, which often CIS reports do not, his report said nothing about Hispanic voters as “illegal.”

In response to a request for clarification by Hatewatch, Camarota wrote, “My report in no way indicates that these individuals are illegal immigrants.”

Two days after the Hatewatch notified CIS about Kouri’s column, Camarota changed his own article’s language. He explained via E-mail, “I decided to add “naturalized U.S. citizens” to the fourth bullet of our report so it now reads: “Only 28.2 percent of Hispanic voters in the 2008 election were immigrants (naturalized U.S. citizens).”

Clarifications aside, the damage was done. Kouri’s article spread panic and rage that reached beyond the extremist base and spread far and wide. Whether inadvertently or maliciously, Kouri – whose writings are often found on white nationalist, nativist, and antigovernment sites – fueled the right’s paranoid speculations about the safety of their voting rights. Reaction to Kouri’s article showed both how readily a stoked right wing will seize on the thinnest reed of fact and turn it into “common knowledge,” and how fast a mistruth can spread on the Web.

  • Mitch Beales

    Actually Kathy citizenship verification is a requirement to vote. It happens when you register. Since it is extremely unusual for one’s citizenship to be renounced or rescinded it is a waste of time and resources to require repeated verification every time one visits a polling place.

  • http://yahoo ruben

    kathy….voter id at the polls would be fine….it would expose the white right wingers that make up these stories as liars…but the problem would be that these same bigots would be the first ones screaming “hell know i ain’t gonna bring my birth certificate with me…just make anyone who looks latino do it”.that is what they are really after isn’t it a police state where people of color can be harassed and discriminated at will by them and making up lies to further villainize the group they are after is just part of there strategy.

  • kathy brooks

    I think citizenship verification should be a legal requirement to vote in an American election then It wont be an issue about who is lying. Just come clean!

  • The Prisoner

    I notice that the discussion has led away from the intent of the article which is that a lie is being spread by taking advantage of the fears of those who can then react to that fear and ignorance and cause others great harm. Any discussion about a person’s awareness or lack thereof has nothing to do with the message of the article. We all need to be aware, we all need to be alarmed, and we definitely need to be alert as to what is happening. Anything less than that is missing the point.

  • skinnyminny

    Mitch Beales,

    Thanks for your input. I was hoping not to sound as if I have a bias towards one or the other. I guess, as I explained, this was disturbing to me and appeared to be discriminatory practices. I also was looking at the fact that some in Mexico, and Central American countries that the people are either extremely poor or extremely rich. In addition, I do know some people that were from Mexico, and this was years ago, probably a little more than a decade ago, they lived on ranches and said they love living in Mexico. However, they said that they were working here to build up retirement money. Then the other side of the coin, I know people from Belize, and they made accusations that land was taken from the locals for outside investors/corporations…

    So, again, thanks for your response. I was just thinking it was a little unfair to ‘Mexicans,’ that they are having to leave their country to come here and face open hostility. And yes, I do agree that it is a right-wing political ploy, however, this is causing deep wounds, and racial divides/tensions, and causes some immigrants to fear for their safety.

    I tell you something that happened last night; I thought it was racially insensitive, yet, at the same time, I laughed so hard I had tears running down my face. Last night, at about 8:30 p.m. (pacific time), The Tim Conway Jr. Show on KFI640 AM radio, the show was entitled, “What The Hell Did Jesse Jackson Say.” The host played clips of Jesse Jackson and callers would try to identify what Jackson said. It was conducted like a game show. One caller got the quote right, the caller said, “I took Ebonics.” At the end of a commercial break, the music was by Stevie Wonder with the lyrics, “When I was a nappy-headed little boy.” Yet, another played what I considered to be a recorded black church sermon. Towards the end of the show, the host said, “here are some clips I didn’t play,” and it played Jackson saying, “dubba dubba dubba,” which was supposed to be pronounced as www. What I take offense to, I don’t think this is Ebonics. As a black woman, I don’t know what kind of language this is actually. I also take offense to this, because, not all blacks talk in ‘Ebonics,’ in other words, what’s next? A name for people who speak what some would say ‘broken English?’

  • Mitch Beales

    skinnyminny the only thing I think you may be “wrong” about is that some may interpret your post to be suggesting that there may be some sort of conspiracy by middle eastern folk. I really think it is just a coincidence that the people you mention have middle eastern roots. In my opinion the conspiracy is by those who vilify Mexicans to further their right wing political agenda.

  • skinnyminny

    Maybe I should explain my original post, is the name Kouri Lebanese or Syrian! I’m not trying to put salt in anyone’s game, however, it appears to be a pattern, at least to me of what appears to be racial discrimination towards Latinos.

    Let me explain briefly what I mean. There’s anti-immigration sentiment towards “illegal immigrants,” in this country that mostly target Central Americans, yet, most people against immigrants think that all peoples from Central America are “Mexicans.”

    I’ve heard and read about people that are anti-immigration say or write, “why don’t Mexicans go back and fix their (insert blank) country…” Now, let’s put two and two together, Carlos Slim was listed in Forbes as the richest man in the world, the Raffoul family is also a wealthy family…we, at least, most of us know what is happening in Mexico. Now, let’s briefly think about Haiti, look at the poor conditions there. Belize recently elected a new prime minister, the minister prior to the elections was Palestinian and was allegedly caught embezzling money – in fact, it is alleged that Hugo Chavez gave money (said to be in the millions of U.S. dollars) to Belize to fund the country’s healthcare system, and it is said the money disappeared. And lastly, Issa is said to have voted against amnesty, among other things.

    I am open to discussion about this, because, again, this is something that is quite disturbing to me. If I am wrong, please correct me!

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “That was also related to my query on what is “white”? Where as we see the mongols conquering a broad section of Eastern Europe & beyond, their roots possibly being Asian; how much inter-marriage did occur prior to the “Rus” forming Moscow?”

    Moscow existed long before the Mongol invasion, but it didn’t really rise to prominence until some time after the sacking of Kiev(the real center of Russian culture and history). First off, it is important to realize that most of the “Mongols” were in fact Turks, not Mongols at all. The language barrier was not an impediment to tribes of the steppe when it came to confederations. A great many of these Turks also had relatives which had been living in what is now European Russia for some time. Mainly these were Kypchaks. Russian princes often allied with Kypchaks. There were also the Turkic Bulgars of Volga Bulgaria, present day Tatarstan. Of course they all traded a lot but it’s hard to comment on how often they intermarried or interbred.

    For one thing, Turks seem to have had a wide variety of physical traits. Some still look very Asiatic in appearance, whereas modern-day Tatars and Chuvashes my be totally European looking. In fact some Tatars are more European looking than ethnic Russians.

    Of course WNs have no understanding of this, because they have virtually no experience with real European culture or history that isn’t on some internet forum.

  • Paen

    Geo I don’t need lecons on history from someone who thinks that John Wayne movies were historicly acurate.

  • Mitch Beales

    KuffarFalcon you are the first one in this thread to mention Arabs. Actually the Arabian peninsula constitutes about half of the middle east according to all the images that show up when I google “middle east.” Most definitions of “Arab” include people who self-identify as such based on their language or culture so by that definition quite a few Arabs are native to “Levant” and North Africa. Your claim that, “Arabs are not actually native to Middle East and North Africa,” makes about as much sense as claiming that the Maronites are not native to Lebanon.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Hi Geo, I’m here to ruin your Solutrean nonsense.

    http://anti-racistcanada.blogs.....trean.html

    The fact that you find something in common with Kennewick man(who may not have been a “Solutrean” as it is not proven that they ever migrated to America anyway) is pretty strange. His face resembles some Native Americans, or an Ainu of Japan. “Solutrean” is just another half-cocked theory WNs use to justify their idiocy, and as always they rarely fully research the theory as well.

    Of course it’s absolutely ridiculous that you find something in common with people who existed tens of thousands of years ago. If you find such solidarity with Solutreans, why not go back further, to Africa? Here you think this long-dead man is your racial brother because you decided his reconstructed face looks like Patrick Stewart. We could find hundreds and thousands of people who look far “whiter” than him in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, or Northern China- are you going to express your solidarity with those living people?

  • skinnyminny

    KuffarFalcon,
    BTW, I forgot to mention, the information I received was from local Press Enterprise & North County Times, and DailyKos about Issa. For example, the story Top 10 Darrell Issa Hall of Shame Moments http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....884/490329 here it says that Issa denied 9-11 was a terrorist act, denied benefits to workers, accused Valier Plame of perjury and fired U.S. Atty Carol Lam.

    I also know about Haiti, there’s a Lebanese/Haitian born businessman that have factories, what some call sweatshop factories.

    So, if you don’t mind, please elaborate. Please explain why Latinos and Blacks have much to worry about!

  • skinnyminny

    KuffarFalcon,
    It doesn’t matter! I say it doesn’t matter, because, I personally know people from Iraq that are Armenians, actually. I know Armenians whose last name is Issa, yet, they pronounce the name as E not I. Due to migration, and mixing of ethnicities, I usually don’t try to call a person’s racial identity, such as Moroccans, as Iranians say they are Mongolians….

    However, perhaps, you can elaborate on this for me. I know that Carlos Slim from Mexico is Lebanese, and I’ve read that he is or was in talks to purchase the NY Post or NY Times. I know about Isaac Saba Raffoul in Mexico, and the family foundation connection to Bush’s presidential Library. I know who owns the Palms Hotel & Casino. I also know Rep. Issa, at least the local papers reported that his constituents were angry when a brush fire broke and he was reportedly in Syria helping build cellphone towers. Now, I also know that Lebanese are throughout Central and South America, i.e., the singer Shakira is Lebanese-Colombian. Is this what is happening, that the Lebanese are crushing the minorities from within, Black and Latinos?

  • Carter

    I did know that many Bedouin & related tribes migrated through the Northern African area & to the best of my limited historical knowledge of the area you are right on target; depending upon how many centuries back we go.

    And being Maronite would the ancestry of those peoples have embraced Christianity?

    That was also related to my query on what is “white”? Where as we see the mongols conquering a broad section of Eastern Europe & beyond, their roots possibly being Asian; how much inter-marriage did occur prior to the “Rus” forming Moscow?

  • KuffarFalcon

    “is the name Kouri Lebanese or Syrian”

    Actually, that surname of Aramaic origin. Jim Kouri is most certainly not an Arab. He’s a Maronite, a person who’s descended from the indigenous pre-Arab, and pre-Islamic peoples of Levant. You know, the Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Byzantine Greeks, and Sassanid Persians.

    http://www.debbieschlussel.com.....not-arabs/

    BTW, minny and Carter, you are both aware that Arabs are not actually native to Middle East and North Africa, right? The Arabs’ actual homeland is the Arabian peninsula (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Emirates). All of the present day Muslim “Arab” countries that stretch from Iraq to Western Sahara, are only so because of the Islamic conquests and Arab colonization in 7th century A.D.

    http://faculty.cua.edu/penning.....sts636.htm

  • http://yahoo ruben

    geo….i am a mestizo and proud of it….and the only failings that i can think of is my ancestors trusting the europeans when they arrived…they had little experience dealing with the treachery and greed of these invaders.

  • Geo

    Peon, The so-called “native descent” theory is imploding on itself everyday…….history has a way of changing with the discoveries of the kennewick man, the Solutrean migration and a myriad of newly discovered archeological finds throughout North America. I’m sure you will find a way to disagree. Alas, there was a war ( remember the Alamo!) that clearly drew a line in the sand ( manifest Destiny). I’m willing to bet that giving an opportunity your ilk would gladly “give it back” in furtherance of your traitorous mentality. Unless of course you are one of those “native” mestizos who cry sour grapes because of your ancestors failings.

  • skinnyminny

    Ruben,
    I, personally, think we (minorities) should become more aware and, I think we should not take the attitude of ignoring this racial hatred. Here’s why I believe we should no longer ignore this, yesterday, in Los Angeles, the news reported that LASD shot another black man in the back, alleging he was shot 12 times in the back. The family (I think the name was Robert Thomas Sr.) says that he was not armed, but the police says he (the suspect) pointed a gun at them and a gun was discovered in the area. Yet, witnesses report that the police asked to talk to him and he instead ran away and was shot.

    We just went through some riots in Oakland over the shooting death of Oscar Grant. Protests from the shooting of the Guatemalan immigrant worker. Questions arising from the investigation of Mitrice Richards.

  • ruben

    paen….THANK YOU!!

  • Paen

    Did these bigots ever notice that most of the people they are raving about are of native descent and have in fact been here in North America for thousands of years before Europeans ever heard of the new world?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Yeah, and well-to-do Northern Europeans would be stupid to immigrate to America, which has a worse standard of living than their countries.

  • CM

    All the shouting about “illegals” is a red herring anyway. Most of the people doing the shouting, including groups like FAIR and ALIPAC, are anti-immigration, period – unless it’s restricted to well-to-do Northern Europeans.

  • ruben

    as a person of mexican/american decent this anti mexican rhetoric does not even faze me anymore….i have come to accept the fact that the white right will always need to have someone to hate….there hatred is obviously taught at home and passed down from generation to generation….if these people were in heaven they would find some group to hate up there that is just there m.o….but if you are gonna hate on me bring up actual facts to back up the poison that you spew,instead of doctored up lies!!….racial hatred is the most vile human emotion and the white right has cornered the market on that emotion.

  • Mitch Beales

    In Illinois we don’t need to register undocumented immigrants. We can get all the votes we need from dead folks. If the “unborn” have rights why not the “unresurrected”? :-)

  • Carter

    I think it’s Lebanese.

    This was what I was talking about when I mentioned the subtle (& sometimes not so subtle) “self hate” that becomes toxic in many and varied peoples.
    Listen to some comedians and occasionally you’ll hear it. Watch children play and you’ll see it on occasion. It can be very sad in a sense but it’s always destructive to the individual’s sense of self-worth.

    In can be illustrated in the “absorption” of a culture or a simple loathing for one’s roots. But self hatred exists and undermines a great many wonderful things about the things that make us unique & allow us to appreciate the world around us.

  • skinnyminny

    I’m curious, is the name Kouri Lebanese or Syrian! Is this a way to divert the attention away from Muslims or people from the ME and place it back towards Latinos?