Debunking One of the Most Ridiculous Anti-Immigrant Memes I’ve Ever Encountered

Without a doubt, one of the easiest ways for unethical lowlifes to spread fake news is by creating memes to post on various social media pages, hoping that they go “viral.” A meme that goes viral on social media can reach hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of a day or two. Over time, millions of people can be inaccurately informed about something based on nothing more than the human tendency to click “share” whenever they see something posted online that they like without actually fact checking the information to make sure it’s accurate.

For instance, this meme I’ve seen shared for years all over the Internet that, once again, seems to be making the rounds (on one conservative Facebook page alone it’s surpassed 60,000 shares and still climbing):

Literally none of that information is true, with most of it being so ridiculous you’d have to want to believe absurd and hateful lies to actually think it’s accurate. Without even doing any sort of research it’s obviously preposterous to believe that 95 percent of murder warrants in Los Angeles are for illegal immigrants, more than 39 percent of California students grades 1-12 are illegal, and more than 43 percent of all food stamps are given to illegal immigrants.

Let’s just go line by line debunking this garbage.

1. More than 43% of all Food Stamps are given to illegals: Considering there are roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, yet 42.6 million Americans received SNAP benefits in 2017, obviously it’s not possible that 43 percent of the people receiving food stamps were illegal immigrants. For the record, illegal immigrants don’t qualify for SNAP.

2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles for illegals: Poor wording aside, you’d have to be an absolute idiot to actually believe this is true. There were 632 homicides in L.A. County in 2017 and 601 of them weren’t committed by illegal immigrants. However, if this is referring to overall warrants, that might be slightly more accurate — though still not nearly 95 percent — considering an illegal immigrant wanted for a crime such as murder is much more likely to flee back to wherever they came from, leaving their warrant open indefinitely.

3. Less than 2% of illegals are picking crops, but 41 percent are on welfare: I think the correct way we should look at the picking crop number isn’t what percentage of overall illegal immigrants are “picking crops” but what percentage of people “picking crops” are illegal immigrants. As far as the 41 percent on welfare, again, considering illegal immigrants can’t get welfare (cash payments), or SNAP (food stamps), this number is basically just made up.

4. More than 66% of all births in California are to illegals on Medi-Cal. paid by the US TAXPAYER: Nope, not true, either. According to Snopes, whoever came up with this number pulled data from the California Vital Records Department for the Department of Health and Human Services and assumed all parents of Hispanic heritage are “illegal.”

5. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties in U.S. are illegals: Based on Politifact’s investigation, less than 1 percent of occupants of HUD housing are illegal immigrants. Once again, we have a “stat” that’s been completely made up out of thin air to add shock value to a meme and fuel hatred in those who believe it.

6. More than 39% of California students grade 1-12 are illegals: There are roughly 6.2 million students in California public schools. To believe that 39 percent of them are “illegal” means you’d have to believe that 2.4 million public school students in California are illegal. While there are a large number of students in public schools in California who have illegal immigrants as parents, it’s only about 13.2 percent — not 39 percent. Though I’d like to remind everyone that anyone born in the United States is an American citizen; it doesn’t matter what the legal status of their parents is. Therefore, even if 13.2 percent of students in California public schools are children of illegal immigrants, that does not mean the students themselves are “illegal,” making this claim even more absurd.

7. 75% of L.A.’s Most Wanted are illegals: Once again, simply not true. According to the Los Angeles Times, this number is traced back to something that’s been circulating around the Internet since 2006 that lists the same 75 percent number for various other cities without any credible source backing it up.

8. More than half of all gang members are illegals: No clue where this number came from because I couldn’t find a credible number that would back up the exact number of gang members that are assumed to be illegal immigrants. That said, considering the FBI estimates that there are 1.4 million gang members in the U.S., it seems unlikely that “more than half” of that figure (or over 700,000 — 5.3% of all illegal immigrants in the country) are illegal immigrants.

9. US companies using illegals in 2005 profited over 2.36 TRILLION dollars: Considering this meme is using figures from 13 years ago, that shows you how long it’s been around spreading these lies, yet it’s still being spread by tens of thousands of people today. To fully debunk this would take an entire article that reads more like an economic class than anything else, so I’m just going to go ahead and point out that considering most companies aren’t going to admit to using illegal immigrants, it’s next to impossible to know how much, exactly, the companies that did use them profited. That said, considering our economic output for 2016 was 18.6 trillion, I think it’s safe to assume that companies using illegal immigrants didn’t account for 12.4 percent of that.

10. US Tax payers are footing the bill for ALL illegals: While it’s true illegal immigrants don’t pay certain taxes, despite the popular myth among conservatives, they do pay taxes.

As Vox reported:

Unauthorized workers aren’t eligible for benefits like the earned income tax credit — which is what the green box on the screen was warning Gonzalez about. Nor can they get Social Security or Medicare. But the IRS still wants unauthorized immigrants to file their taxes, and many of them do. The best estimates from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington, DC, think tank, suggest about half of undocumented workers in the United States pay income taxes.

The agency doesn’t break down the number of tax returns filed this way, but in 2010, it reported that about 3 million ITIN holders paid more than $870 million in income taxes. There are currently about 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United States, including children and the elderly.

And that’s just the regular “taxes” most people think about. That doesn’t include sales tax illegal immigrants pay on purchases, or what they contribute to property taxes if they rent a home where whoever owns it is obviously paying taxes on it.

As you can see, almost nothing about this meme is accurate. Yet it’s been around for years circulating through various conservative echo chambers, fueling their hatred while never getting debunked by a news source they trust.

Hopefully everyone reading this will share the heck out of these facts which easily debunk the bigoted lies this pathetic meme is riddled with.

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Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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