“A flyer in her name told migrants to vote for Biden. But she says she didn’t write it”

NPR deep dive into a story previously featured on ELB from the NYT:

Zavala said a “blanket of fear” fell over her in the days after the flyers went viral.

I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know if I should respond,” Zavala said. “If I say something, is it going to fuel the fire more? Will this cause more death threats?”

She shut down her social media accounts as the hateful messages kept coming.

She said it bothered her that no one publicizing the flyer on social media or in Congress had checked with her about whether she or anyone at RCM had written it.

“They never cared to call me and find out whether it was true or not,” Zavala said. “I mean, that really is, you know, an attack on my character as a person.”

Rubin told NPR that it “certainly occurred to me” to ask RCM to verify the flyer when he visited, but he didn’t want to bring attention to himself because he said he had previously been kidnapped by the Gulf Cartel near there. “I need to maintain a low profile here because I am in enemy territory. The cartel literally told me, ‘Never come back here again.'”

Howell, a former attorney for the Department of Homeland Security, acknowledged that the Oversight Project did not reach out to Zavala before publishing the X thread because “it was in the immediate public interest to know about the invasion in the United States.” He added, “Would the United States reach out to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] to verify intelligence about them flooding fentanyl into this country? Of course not.”

Howell noted that the Heritage Foundation’s news outlet, The Daily Signal, sought comment from Zavala after the thread was published. The first story that The Daily Signal published about the thread, on April 15, does not mention seeking comment from Zavala; only the second story, on April 16, does. The second story says Zavala didn’t respond to The Daily Signal.

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Zavala said there are a number of clues that suggest the flyer was not written by her or anyone at RCM.

It contains errors, such as “Bienvedinos” instead of “Bienvenidos” (Welcome). Zavala is not a native Spanish-speaker, but she said she checks the grammar and spelling of what she writes in Spanish.

Whoever made the flyer relied heavily on RCM’s English-language website, which has dated posts that stop after 2021. Zavala said she has not had the time or resources to update it.

The flyer lists a defunct phone number that Zavala said she hasn’t used in years but is still listed on the website.

The first two sentences of the flyer appear to be an old description of the organization copied directly from the website and run through Google Translate into Spanish. It mentions that HIAS shares the office, an arrangement that ended in 2022, according to both groups.

The next two sentences, which remind readers to vote for Biden when they get to the U.S., are written in a different style and are riddled with more errors than the previous ones. That section translates “United States” as “estados unidos,” without the usual capitalization, while the previous section uses the abbreviation “los EE. UU.”

There are also inaccuracies in the X thread. The thread says the site where the video shows the flyers is a “Resource Center Matamoras (RCM) location.”

But RCM has not staffed the site for years, which was also confirmed to NPR by people from other local nongovernmental organizations who work with migrants. Glady Cañas of Ayudándoles a Triunfar and Andrea Rudnik of Team Brownsville both told NPR that there is no longer a formal camp at that site.

NPR visited the site and saw an informal encampment with a small number of migrants staying there, but did not see any evidence of the flyers. Anyone can access the encampment, which is in a city park along the banks of the Rio Grande.

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