Our VoiceImmigration

Center for Immigration Studies and the Arizona border


Rebecca Poswolsky • Jan 12, 2011

We have recently received requests from readers asking that we clarify details surrounding a group called Center for Immigration Studies and its activities in Arizona.

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) was founded in 1985 as a project directly under the control of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Washington, D.C.-based think tank portrays itself as a mainstream organization that studies the impact of immigration in the United States.

More accurately, CIS is part of the John Tanton Network, a web of controversial anti-immigrant organizations orchestrated by John Tanton, the founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

For many years the Tanton Network has used claims of environmental degradation to further its anti-immigrant agenda. The message from groups like Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is simple: more immigrants mean more pollution and fewer resources for the rest of us.

In July, Center for Immigration Studies put out its second “hidden camera” documentary film.  The video is titled, “Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 2: Drugs, Guns and 850 Illegal Aliens.” And in September it put out a third video in the series.

The focus of the Arizona border films is clear: spread unfounded fears about immigrants and portray the U.S. border in Arizona as dangerous.

CIS researcher Steven Camarota stated recently, “While our country obviously can ‘fit’ more people, and technology and planning can help manage the situation, forcing such high population growth through immigration policy has profound implications for the environment, traffic, congestion, sprawl, water quality and the loss of open spaces.”

Center for Immigration Studies describes itself as a “think tank” and “pro-immigrant”; however, in July of 2009 it released a press statement and videos demonstrating that it collaborates with controversial border vigilantes. The press release linked readers to a website called Borderinvasionpics.com. This site operates in conjunction with American Patrol, Glenn Spencer’s anti-immigrant group.

That wasn’t the first time one of John Tanton’s organizations was found to have ties to Glenn Spencer. According to the Center for New Community, John Tanton indicated in a 2000 letter that he gave Glenn Spencer $40,000 in support of his work in California.

According to Long Island Wins, “Glenn Spencer is a long-time anti-immigrant leader with a large national following. He helped organize some of the first “border watch” activities that led to the creation of Minuteman nationally.”

Glenn Spencer has a checkered past. In June of 2009 he met with child-killer Shawna Forde shortly before her arrest. She was apprehended by the FBI less than a mile from his home. He downplayed his relationship with her, but the fact remains that when Forde was on the run for the murder of a nine-year-old and her father she went to Spencer for help.

Glenn Spencer has also attended conferences of American Renaissance magazine, a white nationalist monthly journal and website run by Jared Taylor.

Center for Immigration Studies and the Tanton-related organization, FAIR, have been sharply criticized by environmentalists for promoting false arguments about environmental degradation.

The Sierra Club’s Borderlands Wild Versus Wall video takes on CIS’ claims and clarifies what the real environmental issues are at the border.

J.T. Ready, a former leader in the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Movement (NSM) and good friend of Arizona State Senator Russell Pierce (SB1070 sponsor), has picked up on CIS’ rhetoric when it comes to immigrants and ecology.

According to Stephen Lemons’ article, “Neo-Nazi J.T. Ready and the U.S. Border Patrol Collaborate on Drug Bust?” Ready’s comments on his Flickr photos include,

“Illegal aliens are responsible for the trashing of our wildlife refuge and park areas. National monuments are destroyed by them. Hundreds of millions of dollars of ranch land and animals are destroyed by their invasion. Wildlife and livestock eating the rubbish and drugs left behind in the wake of the illegal aliens die a terrible and agonizing death.”

Center for Immigration Studies and J.T. Ready are contributing to an atmosphere in which immigrants are to blame for environmental degradation in Arizona and other border states.

Those working for real solutions do not resort to blaming immigrants with false accusations.

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