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March 23rd, 2011
Grijalva Questions State Senators’ Discredited Attacks on Hispanic School Students After School District Debunks Claims

Tucson, Ariz. – After an investigation by a Phoenix-area school district revealed Wednesday that a letter read on the floor of the state Senate March 17 was likely a fabrication, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva questioned the motivations of State Senate President Russell Pearce and other state lawmakers in promoting the letter as evidence of Hispanic students’ alleged disciplinary and educational shortcomings.

The letter – sent to Pearce March 15 and read aloud by Republican State Sen. Lori Klein during debate of a bill package on immigration and education policy – was written by Anthony Hill, a man the Arizona Republic newspaper confirmed works as an on-call substitute teacher for Glendale Elementary School District. After interviewing students Mr. Hill taught before writing his letter, District officials could find no evidence of the behavior Mr. Hill described.

After writing about students tearing books apart, planning to retake Arizona in the name of Mexico, and refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, Mr. Hill wrote to Pearce: “When the citizens of a country are forced to speak the invaders language, adopt their customs, and forced to support them, are we not a conquer nation?  I do not want to see our state and nation turned into a third world country.” The full text of the letter is available at the Republic Web site here.

According to a story published online in the Republic mid-day Wednesday:

“The district believes that the statements made by Mr. Hill in regard to our students and school were not accurate,” according to the release. “Students who were interviewed did not recall making or hearing any of the inflammatory statements attributed to them by Mr. Hill, and students also said they stood for the daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.” Hill had earlier told The Republic that he didn’t write the letter out of malice or hatred, nor did he intend for it to be read on the Senate floor. Pearce said he has spoken to Hill and that Hill stands by what he wrote.

After the revelation that Mr. Hill’s claims were untrue, Grijalva said he was unsurprised. “Sen. Pearce will stoop to any low, even lying to the public, to continue his extremist attack against the decent and hard-working people of this state, their children and their grandchildren,” Grijalva said. “Using this falsified letter to promote his aggressive schemes and unrealistic agenda puts another large nail in the coffin of his public credibility.”

* – This press release has been updated since it was first sent out.

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