10 'facts' about immigration -- not from The Times
In November 2007, this office addressed an e-mail hoax that was citing The Times as the source for 10 "facts" about immigration:
Probably five times a week, the readers' representative office gets a question like this one received recently from Harvey Akeson of Tucson:
"Please help me, an e-mail is making the rounds stating the information is from the L.A. Times. It may or may not be true. Can you verify? Thanks."
Such inquiries have come in for more than a year -- most by e-mail, some by telephone. From the beginning, the notes have shown signs of having been forwarded to many others, who then forward them to many others, before one of the recipients decides to check with the alleged source.
The answer is: The L.A. Times never ran such a story.
Two and a half years later, this office still is receiving this e-mail, several times a week. "If this doesn't open your eyes, nothing will!" the e-mail begins. It continues with these 10 purported facts:
- 40% of all workers in L.A. County (L.A. County has 10.2 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants working without a green card.
- 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
- 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
- Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
- Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.
- Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
- The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
- Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
- 21 radio stations in L.A. are Spanish speaking.
- In L.A. County 5.1 million people speak English, 3.9 million speak Spanish.
To repeat, The Times has never run an article that contains this list. And some of the items appear to have been misleadingly edited from articles that appeared as long as 20 years ago.
"It's like kudzu," said one editor who passed along yet another copy of the e-mail. "It will never die."
Most readers who forward the e-mail to The Times say they find the claims suspect and want to verify the source. This office has a prepared response to these inquiries, which includes links to the 2007 Readers' Representative Journal post, an earlier post by The Times' Opinion L.A. blog, and a September 2009 column by Hector Tobar, the most recent effort to debunk the e-mail.
But as the immigration debate flares, the e-mail keeps spreading. Kudzu indeed.
Photo: Kudzu covers an abandoned truck. Credit: Doug Mizell / AlternativeEngergy.com