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Cobb school board member takes heat for ‘Internet immigration hoax’

Cobb School Board member David Banks is under fire for forwarding a racially charged email about immigrants in California that was debunked by the Los Angeles Times ten years ago.

The forwarded email claims to cite the Times for a series of false statistics, including that 95 percent of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for “illegal aliens” and over two-thirds of all births in Los Angeles County are “to illegal alien Mexicans ... whose births were paid for by taxpayers.”

A copy of Banks’ email with the subject line “Land of Fruits and Nuts,” sent Nov. 23, was provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by the Pro-Immigrant Alliance of Cobb County. When reached by phone, Banks declined to speak to a reporter. 

The LA Times went out of its way to debunk what it called an “Internet immigration hoax” and fact check the claims. However, a decade later, they continue to be circulated.

“No article has appeared in The Times with this list,” the paper wrote in 2007. “And some of these 'facts' appear to have been misleadingly edited from articles that appeared in the L.A. Times as long as 20 years ago and are now being cited inappropriately.”

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The Pro-Immigrant Alliance and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference say they reached out to Banks and offered to meet with him, but received no response.

“Mr. Banks is elected to serve the best interest of all students,” the Alliance said in a statement. “Statements as these are not tolerated in the classroom and therefore have no place on the Cobb County School Board.”

The group is asking for Banks’ immediate resignation and public apology.

Cobb County School Board Chairman David Chastain wrote in an email that because Banks was distributing a forwarded email message to a personal distribution list using his personal email account, “this matter is not within (the board’s) legal purview.”

Twenty-one percent of the Cobb School District’s students are Hispanic. Chastain urged Hispanic and other families in Cobb not to assume Banks represents the district or the board. 

 “We’re very proud that Cobb County has the diversity that it does,” Chastain said, appealing for “civility.”

Several people also spoke out against Banks’ email at a school board meeting Thursday.

This isn’t the first time Banks has roused the ire of pro-immigrant activists. In 2015, he forwarded an email calling for the curtailment of Mexican immigrants’ rights, including the right to free speech, protest, property ownership and organizing.

“It’s time for the Mexican government, and its citizens, to stop feeding parasitically off the United States,” reads the email, which was also provided by the Pro-Immigrant Alliance of Cobb County. “If you do come to this country illegally, you will be actively hunted and, when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged.”

That email appears to be a re-hashing of a 2008 article published in the Tucson Citizen, which ceased publication in 2009. 

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