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• The assertions in this post range from unsupported to incorrect, even though they have been circulating consistently for almost a decade and a half despite repeated debunkings by fact-checkers.
If you believed the statistical claims in a recent Facebook post being shared by thousands, you would think that Los Angeles is overrun by law-breaking immigrants.
The factually flawed Facebook post that claims the Los Angeles Times as its source has long roots; it’s been circulating in various forms since at least 2006. Yet it’s no truer today than it was when fact-checkers first started looking into these faulty stats.
PolitiFact found significant inaccuracies in many of the post’s assertions as recently as 2018. We rated another assertion in the new post Pants on Fire in 2009. And the bulk of the claims in the recent post have been debunked by such fact checkers as Snopes.com as long ago as 2006.
"1) 40% of all workers in LA County (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. (Donald Trump was right )
"2) 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
"3) 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
"4) 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.
"5) Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals; they are here illegally.
"6) Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
"7) The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
"8) Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
"9) 21 radio stations in LA are Spanish-speaking.
"10) In LA County, 5.1 million people speak English; 3.9 million, speak Spanish . (There are 10.2 million people, in LA County.)
"All 10 of the above facts were published in the Los Angeles Times."
The post also says that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., whose picture accompanies the post, "wants to put a Windfall Tax on all stock market profits (including Retirement fund, 401K and Mutual Funds)!"
Let’s take a closer look at some of the post’s specific claims.
As Snopes.com first noted, this figure also appears, without additional sourcing, in 2005 congressional testimony by Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. "In Los Angeles, 95% of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens," she wrote in her testimony. "Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens."
When we contacted Mac Donald in 2018, she said, "This information was given to me by a member of the (Los Angeles Police Department), who was making a rough estimate. It refers to fugitive warrants; homicide suspects who were in the country illegally often return to their home countries when they are sought on a warrant."
Even if this number was accurate at the time — and it was provided anonymously rather than being an official statistic — it is a "rough estimate" that is a decade and a half old. Those qualifications do not appear in the meme circulating today.
Mac Donald never cited this figure in her 2005 testimony. We were unable to find any supporting evidence for it.
Medi-Cal is the name of California’s Medicaid program, which covers low-income residents of the state, including, to a certain extent, undocumented immigrants.
In 2018, a spokeswoman for California's Department of Health Care Services provided PolitiFact with statistics for 2012 and 2013. The percentage was 13.4% in 2012 and 12.6% in 2013. We rated this statement False.
This is, at best, an assumption, because there’s no official data to back it up. Neither the FBI or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has officially estimated the percentage of gang members who are in the United States illegally.
A 2011 FBI assessment said there were 1.4 million active street, prison, and outlaw motorcycle gang members affiliated with more than 33,000 gangs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It’s unclear how many of the 1.4 million were here illegally.
In a 2017 six-week operation targeting all gang members, ICE arrested 1,378 individuals; 933 were U.S. citizens and 445 were foreign nationals. ICE didn’t have a breakdown of the foreign nationals’ immigration status.
This is another instance where the numbers just don’t add up to support the claim. (In 2012, we rated it Pants on Fire.)
Using updated data, there were about 9.7 million people in subsidized housing in 2017, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
So 60% of the 9.7 million would mean that about 5.8 million of those housing-subsidized residents were people here illegally, which experts have told us "seems implausible" and "nonsensical."
A 2015 report by the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors low levels of immigration, estimated that in 2012, 4% of households headed by immigrants in the country illegally used housing programs. "While households headed by illegal immigrants make some use of housing and cash programs, their use is lower than that of households headed by the native-born for these programs," the study said.
On Sept. 7, 2009, the Los Angeles Times published a column by Hector Tobar. He listed these assertions in order to debunk them and to decry what was then a new phenomenon of people sharing thinly sourced facts via chain emails.
"The authors of the chain e-mail and the phony government report fear what Los Angeles has become — a multilingual, multiethnic city with multicultural tastes," Tobar wrote. "They search for information to persuade others to be afraid, but the actual numbers don’t quite add up to the big monster they think is out there. So they make the numbers bigger. Or they just make them up. And they spread them around until all that fear and anger turns into a big hate."
This one comes from a different direction, but it has also been circulating since at least 2006, just before the Democrats won control of the House. As far back as 2009, we rated it Pants on Fire.
Pelosi’s office told PolitiFact that "internet and e-mail rumors indicating that I support a windfall profits tax on earnings from the stock market are completely and utterly fabricated." She added, "My record on promoting retirement security and strengthening 401(k)'s and other savings incentives in the tax code contradict these rumors."
Facebook posts said that according to the Los Angeles Times, "95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens," more than two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles County "are to illegal alien Mexicans" on Medicaid, "nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal," and Nancy Pelosi "wants to put a windfall tax" on retirement fund profits.
The assertions in this post not only range from unsupported to incorrect, but they have been circulating consistently for almost a decade and a half despite repeated debunkings by fact-checkers as well as the Los Angeles Times itself.
We rate the statement Pants on Fire.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.
Facebook post, July 9, 2020
PolitiFact, "Fact-checking an immigration meme that's been circulating for more than a decade," July 5, 2018
PolitiFact, "Bogus e-mail is wrong about Pelosi and 'windfall profits' from stocks," Feb. 11, 2009
PolitiFact, "Viral image overstates births to undocumented mothers in California," July 5, 2018
Snopes.com, "Just One State – The Cost of ‘Illegals’ in Los Angeles," May 3, 2006
PolitiFact, "Facebook post claims nearly 60 percent of public housing residents are illegal immigrants," June 21, 2012
FactCheck.org, "Sliming Pelosi," Jan. 14, 2009
Snopes.com, "Windfall Profits Tax," Jan. 6, 2009
Los Angeles Times, "Looking for Truth in E-mails," Sept. 7, 2009
Los Angeles Times, "Internet Immigration Hoax," Nov. 28, 2007
Los Angeles Times, "Some Memes Never Die", Feb. 7, 2007
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