'Revised' Legion Report Still Bashes Immigrants

Nativist Propaganda

Six months after being called out by the Intelligence Report for publishing xenophobic falsehoods in a widely distributed booklet about immigration, the American Legion quietly removed the most egregious inaccuracies from a new version of its report.

America's largest veteran's organization, however, has yet to publicly acknowledge the errors, and the new edition of the report still contains derogatory myths about undocumented immigrants. "The security, economy and social fabric of the United States of America is seriously threatened by individuals who are illegally in this country," the booklet states.

The legion first released A Strategy to Address Illegal Immigration in the United States on April 28, 2008. Two months later, the legion announced the booklet was being "updated" after two organizations — the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the American GI Forum, a Hispanic veterans group — repeatedly protested the original booklet's immigrant-bashing fabrications.

The "updated" report, which came out this January, no longer contends that "non-citizens make up fully 30% of the American prison population." (The real number is roughly 6%.) Nor does it falsely claim that undocumented immigrants infected 7,000 people in this country with leprosy during a recent three-year period. (The actual figure for all leprosy cases in the U.S. during that time is about 400, and it's unknown how many were attributable to immigrants, undocumented or otherwise.) Also gone is the false assertion — for which the original report provided no source but which is a widespread allegation among hard-line nativists — that "more Americans are killed by illegal aliens than died in the Iraq War."

Despite these changes, the booklet still presents some misinformation, including the claim that "[b]y failing to assimilate into our culture [undocumented immigrants] divide America into ethnic enclaves." In fact, a recent study by the Manhattan Institute found that today's foreign-born, while currently less assimilated than their counterparts of 100 years ago, are in fact assimilating at a faster rate than those earlier newcomers. The booklet also makes claims about job losses and the drain on public services that immigration scholars have largely debunked.

Also troubling is the fact that several of the American Legion's state chapters and local posts are allied with nativist extremist groups. The California branch of the American Legion, for instance, recently joined a coalition that seeks to force "illegal alien birth mothers" to obtain special birth certificates. The coalition, Taxpayer's Revolution, argues that ending the 14th Amendment's guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States is "critical toward reducing the crime problem." (Several studies clearly show that immigrants, in fact, are significantly less criminal than native-born Americans.)

Last August, a Colorado American Legion post hosted a three-day "national security convention" devoted entirely to immigration. The speakers included Glenn Spencer, leader of the hate groups American Patrol and American Border Patrol and a man who has suggested ordering Spanish-language television off the air.