As Congress returns to Washington, so does the anti-immigrant movement. Anti-immigrant groups have begun to continue their work from 2013 and earlier to obstruct any progress towards meaningful immigration reform. The most prominent of these organizations in opening days of the year has been the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). So far this year, the organization has made headlines for several media gaffes and associations with extremists.
These include CIS fellow David North appearing on an anti-Semitic internet radio show and Senior Policy Analyst Stephen Steinlight claiming future immigration will be a “disaster” and result in the “unmaking of America.” These instances are simply the latest in a long history of extremist positions held by CIS and its employees while simultaneously working to attain the image of being a reputable authority on immigration policy.
In late December, North appeared on the vehemently anti-Semitic internet radio program titled “The Realist Report.” The program is hosted by John Friend, a regular contributor to the anti-Semite Willis Carto’s American Free Press. The hour-long discussion largely related to the immigration and visa allotment that North regularly writes about for CIS. Friend, however, was able to inject some of his conspiracy-laden anti-Semitism into the conversation towards the end of the program when he asked North whether he believed immigration policy was part of a Jewish agenda to “destroy the traditional ethnic makeup of the United States.” North, declined to discuss the matter, but should not have been surprised by the question. A quick glance at Friend’s website shows prominently-displayed quotes from individuals including Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and Willis Carto. Additionally, just two weeks before North appeared on the program, Friend’s featured guest on The Realist Report was white nationalist internet personality Horus the Avenger.
One individual that, at least in part, apparently relates to John Friend’s fears of changing demographics in America is North’s CIS colleague Stephen Steinlight. In a January 1 interview with Washington Times blogger Joseph Cotto, Steinlight said that, if Congress passes immigration reforms, “[w]e can expect disaster. In sum, we’ll witness the unmaking of America.” Later in the piece, the CIS analyst claimed the same demographic shifts will “destroy social cohesion.” Steinlight’s comments are comparatively more dialed-down than when he warned Texas’ Clear Lake Tea Party last year of Hispanics organizing “something that will look like the civil rights movement for African Americans, but I can promise you it will be a lot bloodier.”
Keep in mind that these are being said and done by people representing an organization founded by white nationalist John Tanton, but more importantly, under the leadership of CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian. Like his employees, the CIS head is also no stranger to extremist remarks and actions. In the past, he has referred to Muslims as “a vicious people” and has also proclaimed, “Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.” Krikorian also maintains a regular relationship with anti-Muslim activist and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney – periodically appearing on the latter’s radio show and coordinating messaging and organizational tactics via the ultra-conservative group Goundswell.
Noting growing bipartisan support for meaningful reforms to our immigration system, a recent CIS email stated the organization will make sure its research this year “remains prominent in the debate.” Accordingly, we all have a responsibility to not allow immigration policy to be influenced by research and opinions motivated by nativist bigotry such as those espoused by organizations like Center for Immigration Studies and its allies in the organized anti-immigrant movement.