No "façade": CNN correspondent Sylvester rebuffs Dobbs' efforts to get her to affirm his false accusations of secrecy against Appleseed

››› ››› MARCIA KUNTZ & MEREDITH ADAMS

On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs introduced a segment by Lisa Sylvester about a report by the nonprofit group Appleseed by asserting, "Many of these groups call themselves nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations when in reality they are nothing more than advocates for illegal alien amnesty and, in many cases, open borders. Lisa Sylvester reports on the façade." But Sylvester did not expose any such "façade," and Sylvester rebuffed Dobbs' efforts to get her to assert that Appleseed is something other than what it claims to be -- "[a] non-profit network of 16 public interest justice centers in the U.S. and Mexico ... dedicated to building a society where opportunities are genuine, access to the law is universal and equal, and government advances the public interest."

On the May 19 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight, the host introduced a segment about a report by the nonprofit group Appleseed, which assessed the effects of state and local immigration enforcement, by stating: "Pro-amnesty open-borders advocates across the country are combining to fight local police efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and the lobby state legislatures and even city government. Many of these groups call themselves nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations when in reality they are nothing more than advocates for illegal alien amnesty and, in many cases, open borders. Lisa Sylvester reports on the façade." But contrary to Dobbs' introduction, Sylvester did not expose any such "façade." Indeed, Sylvester rebuffed Dobbs' efforts to get her to assert that Appleseed is something other than what it claims to be -- "[a] non-profit network of 16 public interest justice centers in the U.S. and Mexico ... dedicated to building a society where opportunities are genuine, access to the law is universal and equal, and government advances the public interest."

Following her report, Dobbs asked Sylvester the following: "So Appleseed is made up of pro bono attorneys at Harvard and MALDEF, the Mexican Legal Defense -- Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, La Raza, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and somebody is -- do they put that really right out front on their letterhead?" (In fact, MALDEF, the National Council of La Raza, and the SPLC are not part of Appleseed.) Sylvester denied that the groups try to hide their identity, saying that "all of these groups are pretty clear what their agenda is in terms of -- but what they don't do is they often don't make a clear distinction between legal immigration and illegal immigration." Not satisfied with her response, Dobbs tried again: "No, Lisa, what I asked was, does Appleseed make it clear on their letterhead who the members are, the law centers that are part of Appleseed?" But Sylvester rebuffed his implicit accusation of secrecy on the part of Appleseed, saying, "They do make it clear which are the law centers. They also make it clear on who are their board of directors. These are members of law firms from around the country, Lou." Dobbs then said: "And yet, we seldom see that reported in the mainstream media that membership in the Appleseed Group when they do these reports. It's amazing." It is not clear what Dobbs was suggesting is "seldom ... reported in the mainstream media," but Appleseed provides links to the websites of its law centers around the country, most of which include lists of staff and boards of directors. Appleseed also provides a long list of law firms and other companies "who have successfully completed or are currently working on projects with Appleseed."

Dobbs concluded the segment by saying: "It's also the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe that the stealth amnesty groups should have to declare their political agendas clearly instead of trying to hide their purpose from the American public? And, oh, you know, heaven forbid, the United States Congress? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com."

From the May 19 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

DOBBS: Pro-amnesty open-borders advocates across the country are combining to fight local police efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and to lobby state legislatures and even city governments. Many of these groups call themselves nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations when in reality, they are nothing more than advocates for illegal alien amnesty and, in many cases, open borders. Lisa Sylvester reports on the façade.

[begin video clip]

SYLVESTER: Local police in Prince William County, Virginia, are taking classes on how to enforce federal immigration laws. Not everyone agrees this is a proper role for state and local governments. Appleseed, a network of public interest law centers based in the United States and Mexico, released a report saying it will deter witnesses and victims from stepping forward.

JOHN THESSIN (lead author, Appleseed report): It strains our relationship with our community. It hurts our ability to be involved in community policing and anti-terrorism efforts.

SYLVESTER: Appleseed was launched by members of Harvard Law's 1958 class and is still run and operated by lawyers working pro bono. It's just the latest of tax-exempt non-profit groups called 501(c)3s jumping into the immigration debate. Among others: the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, La Raza, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. They all advocate amnesty, trying to block immigration raids, and defending illegal aliens in the deportation process.

MIKE CUTLER (former Immigration and Naturalization Service agent): Increasingly, more and more groups are jumping on this bandwagon, and while they may be referred to as nonprofits, we know that there is profit to be found, whether it's membership, whether it's dues, where unions are concerned, whether it's commerce. There is an agenda.

SYLVESTER: Under IRS guidelines, 501(c)3s must be nonpartisan. They can't support a political candidate or party. But they are allowed to take a stand on public policy issues. The executive director of Appleseed insists they are balanced. Their board consists of Republicans and Democrats.

BETSY CAVENDISH (Appleseed executive director): We do research and policy advocacy, but we absolutely don't do politics. So we take a nonpartisan, research-based approach to looking at issues.

SYLVESTER: Maybe nonpartisan, but not without an agenda.

[end video clip]

SYLVESTER: Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Mike Cutler is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies. That's a tax-exempt nonprofit 501-3(c) [sic] organization. One of the biggest voices, though, pushing open borders is the U.S. Catholic Church, tax-exempt because it's a religious institution. Lou?

DOBBS: And so Appleseed is made up of pro bono attorneys at Harvard and MALDEF, the Mexican Legal Defense -- Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, La Raza, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and somebody is -- do they put that really right out front on their letterhead?

SYLVESTER: In fact, all of these groups are pretty clear what their agenda is in terms of -- but what they don't do is they often don't make a clear distinction between legal immigration and illegal immigration.

DOBBS: No, Lisa, what I asked was, does Appleseed make it clear on their letterhead who the members are, the law centers that are part of Appleseed?

SYLVESTER: They do make it clear which are the law centers. They also make it clear on who are their board of directors. These are members of law firms from around the country, Lou.

DOBBS: And yet, we seldom see that reported in the mainstream media, that membership in the Appleseed Group when they do these reports. It's amazing. Lisa, thanks a lot. Lisa Sylvester from Washington. It's also the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe that the stealth amnesty groups should have to declare their political agendas clearly instead of trying to hide their purpose from the American public? And, oh, you know, heaven forbid, the United States Congress? Cast your vote at loudobbs.com.

Posted In
Immigration
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Lou Dobbs
Show/Publication
Lou Dobbs Tonight
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