MALDEF

Despite the Facts, ALIPAC Continues to Push Its Alternate Version of Reality

On April 9, 2008, the Associated Press reported that a Texas teenager was attacked for bringing an anti-immigrant poster to school:
A teenager who took a sign reading "If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration" to school said she was hurt after being swarmed by angry classmates, and administrators said Tuesday they have suspended three students involved in the scuffle.

[…]

J.R. Bowers, the girl's father, said Melanie suffered scratch marks along her neck, face and arms. He said she also had a swollen jaw.

Bowers said as many as 20 students surrounded his daughter in the hallway, and [district superintendent Fred] Hayes said others may have hurled verbal insults. The poster was ultimately destroyed by other students.

"She was like a zebra on her arm," Bowers said of the bruises. "She believes they were intentionally trying to hurt her."1
Another news source reported the young girl alleging the “group of boys” threatened to “rape and kill her.”2

The Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC), an anti-immigrant organization that frequently disseminates falsehoods about immigrants, was quick to discover this news report and circulate the following letter to its members on April 9, 2008:
VIDEO: Illegal Aliens Assault & threaten American child with rape + murder.

This story is emerging from Athens Texas where 13 year old Melanie Bowers was choked and had her face slammed into a brick wall for bringing in a class assignment that read "If you love your nation, stop illegal immigration"

She was surrounded by a mob of Latino students that either were illegal aliens, in illegal alien families, or supportive of illegal immigration and attacked.

[…]

ALIPAC will be demanding that the school suspends all students involved in this attack, that local police file charges against all involved in the attack, and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement determine the legal status of the assailants and their parental guardians in order to enforce immigration laws applicable to any involved.

This is the United States of America. This is not Mexico. In our nation, we do not use terror tactics to suppress free speech and violate the civil rights of American citizens by attacking children as a mob!3
The news stories cited by ALIPAC reported merely that the three students who were suspended are Hispanic, and it never mentioned Mexico. ALIPAC, however, gleefully suggested that “illegal aliens” had attacked the young girl, and it tried without basis to link the story to free speech in Mexico.

In fact, it turns out that ALIPAC was attempting to incite anti-immigrant and anti-Latino bias based upon a fabricated story, as the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported on April 9, 2008:
A 13-year-old girl who claimed she was attacked by a group inside Athens Middle School was caught on a surveillance camera causing the injuries to herself.

The girl now faces disciplinary action from the school and will be charged with filing a false police report, AISD Superintendent Fred Hayes said during a news conference today.

The parents of Melanie Bowers have since sent letters of apology to school and law enforcement investigators.4
In addition, the “illegal alien mob” that ALIPAC said attacked Bowers turned out to be a young Hispanic girl who says that she was wrongfully punished.
13-year-old Melanie Bowers is seen on the school's surveillance cameras scratching herself, and another student is seen taking her sign and throwing it away. Gaby Barrios was one of the students placed on in-school suspension in connection with the incident.

"I feel that I was discriminated [against]," said Gaby.

Gaby told KLTV 7 the same thing the tape shows, she never touched Melanie, nobody did.

"They were passing the sign around at school. I saw it. I just got up to ask her about it. Nothing else, nothing more," said Gaby. "They placed me in [in-school suspension] because they accused me of hitting her, scratching her and threatening her. When I didn't do that. I didn't touch her. I didn't do anything to her. To me they put me in [in-school suspension] for something I didn't do."5
Not to be deterred by these actual facts, ALIPAC disseminated the following disturbing email to its members on April 10, 2008:
Friends of ALIPAC,

While the young girl in Texas made up or embellished her story and lied to authorities, she did accurately portray a story that is repeated daily in America. Each day, innocent Americans are threatened, assaulted, and actually raped and murdered by illegal aliens and their supporters.

ALIPAC collects reports about these incidents that actually do occur on almost a daily basis.

We circulate these news reports because unlike crimes committed by Americans, almost all crimes committed by illegal aliens occur because the government is failing our citizens and failing to enforce laws designed to protect us from criminal acts of illegal aliens.

While many of these stories sound sensational, they should!

[…]

The ALIPAC Team
www.alipac.us6
Truth In Immigration is dedicated to bringing factual and legal accuracy to stories about immigrants because we understand that these types of fabrications can fuel anger and provoke violence towards anyone perceived to be undocumented, including U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent. ALIPAC has repeatedly used false statistics7 about immigrant crime rates to further dehumanize Hispanic immigrants and citizens. It has failed to note that numerous studies8 have found that all immigrants (both legal and illegal) commit crimes at a lower rate, and are incarcerated at a lower rate, than native-born Americans. ALIPAC is in the business of whipping up anti-Hispanic sentiment, and facts are often not useful in this regard.

ALIPAC has demonstrated through this incident that it maintains only a tenuous connection to reality and that it will not be deterred by facts as it pushes an anti-Latino agenda. Its anti-immigrant bias makes it all too willing to attribute misdeeds to Latinos, even when the misdeeds are countered by facts on the ground. The effects of this anti-Latino sentiment can be tragic, as Latinos are increasingly demonized, victimized, and turned into suspects across the nation.

______________________________________
1. "Texas Teen Hurt After Bringing Anti-Illegal Immigration Sign to School." The Associated Press, April 9, 2008
2. Molly Reuter. "East Texas Teenager Attacked Over History Project." KLTV 7 News, April 9, 2008
3." VIDEO: Illegal Aliens Assault & threaten child rape + murder." ALIPAC.us, April 9, 2008
4. Adam Russell. "UPDATE: Athens Student Caused Injuries to Herself." Tyler Morning Telegraph, April 9, 2008
5. Danielle Capper. "Girl Sent To ISS For Incident Speaks To KLTV." KLTV 7 News. Posted April 9, 2008. Updated April 11, 2008
6. "Illegal Alien Supporters Threaten Rhode Island Lawmaker." ALIPAC.us, April 10, 2008
7. "Boyles guest acknowledges 'no one really knows how many Americans per day are being killed by aliens and illegal aliens'." Colorado Media Matters, Oct 31, 2006
8. See Ruben G. Rumbaut and Walter A. Ewing. “The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation." Immigration Policy Center, May 23, 2007,
Robert J. Sampson. "Rethinking Crime and Immigration." Contexts (Vol. 7:28-33, 2008), and
Kristin F. Butcher and Anne Morrison Piehl. "Crime, Corrections, and California: What Does Immigration Have to Do with It?" Public Policy Institute of California, February 2008

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund