A recent fundraising letter from the Conservative Caucus Foundation bears an interesting warning for subscribers: Not only are “illegal aliens” “stealing American jobs,” “DEMANDING amnesty” and having “jackpot babies” so they can “get on the welfare gravy train” – they’re also endangering U.S. citizens with the filthy diseases they carry over the border.
“Some illegal aliens bring diseases we thought were long gone,” the letter proclaims. “Tuberculosis (TB), dysentery, typhoid, malaria, tapeworm, river blindness and guinea worm come into America with illegal aliens.” Elsewhere, it warns of polio.
As explained in a 2007 SPLC report on anti-immigrant myths and propaganda, this is nonsense. As regular readers of this blog know, we have tangled with this issue before. In 2007, we had a major dustup with Lou Dobbs, the immigrant-bashing former CNN commentator who falsely claimed that 7,000 new cases of leprosy had appeared in a recent three-year period in the United States due at least in part to immigrants. Despite Dobbs’ famous declaration that “if we reported it, it’s a fact,” the reality is that about only about 400 new cases appeared during the period, and it’s not known if any of them were linked to immigrants.
Like Dobbs, the Conservative Caucus Foundation and its president, Howard Phillips (who signed the fundraising letter), have little use for facts when there’s fear to be mongered. In a press release last week, Phillips announced that 93% of respondents to a poll run by the foundation “disagreed with the policy of implementing an NAU [North American Union] without the approval of Congress or the voters.” Of course, no such policy in the works. The NAU, a supposed merger of the U.S., Canada and Mexico akin to the European Union, is a figment of the collective imagination of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. Patriots are a conspiracist bunch who generally also believe there is a plot in the works to implement martial law, herd white Christians into concentration camps operated by FEMA, and replace our democracy with a “New World Order” run by shadowy European elites.
The 70-year-old Phillips, a former Nixon official who founded the Conservative Caucus, has long been a central figure of the Patriot movement. In 1992, he created the U.S. Taxpayers Party (later rechristened the Constitution Party), a pro-theocracy organization that favored the death penalty for “abortionists.” He was its candidate for president in 1992, 1996 and 2000, never winning more than 0.2% of the vote despite appearing on the presidential ballot in up to 41 states. He has proposed junking the Voting Rights Act and also been involved in racist neo-Confederate groups that push versions of Christian Reconstructionist theology, which calls for the “reconstruction” of society under Old Testament rule. After a 37-year reign as chairman of the Conservative Caucus, Phillips retired in January, citing health concerns and the need to spend more time with his family. He still appears to hold the post of president of the group’s fundraising arm.
It is in this capacity that he appealed for funds, reminding his supporters of the group’s “unique leadership in key public policy battles” such as “leading the way in urging an end to financial support for the U.N., the World Bank, IMF, NAFTA, WTO, and other New World Order bureaucracies.”
He signed off by replacing the customary “Sincerely” with “Urgently” and added, repeating his earlier lie: “P.S. Because of the illegal alien influx, tuberculosis, leprosy and polio are no longer confined to the Third World. They are back in America. And you are paying for the privilege of being exposed to these diseases. … I pray you will help TCCF in this time of crisis for America.”