Steven Camarota is the Director of Research at Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). CIS was founded in 1985 by John Tanton to serve as a think-tank for the broader anti-immigrant movement that he closely nurtured. The group exists to help the anti-immigrant movement win the “Battle of Ideas” within the immigration debate, as Tanton once wrote. Beginning in 1986 the group was probably the first to openly advance the doctrine of “self-deportation,” or as they call it, “attrition through enforcement.”
By distilling the lives of immigrants into mere statistics, Camarota and CIS are able to dehumanize those individuals while maintaining a veneer of ethical neutrality.
Camarota’s role as the Director of Research at CIS is to create reports and empirical data that promotes that movement’s anti-immigrant agenda. The research Camarota guides is purposefully presented as non-biased reporting of facts and figures. Through methodologies designed to deliver the desired findings, these reports provide the numbers and figures on which the movement’s spokespeople base their arguments for “self-deportation.” The numbers-based arguments that Camarota and CIS produce are essential for this movement. By distilling the lives of immigrants into mere statistics, the group is able to dehumanize those individuals while maintaining a veneer of ethical neutrality.
Sometimes buried in the footnotes and endnotes of these reports, however, are citations of works by racist authors and other questionable sources.
In 2013, for example, Camarota promoted a widely denounced report authored by researchers at the Heritage Foundation. The report’s authors used outdated models of economic analysis to concoct an argument that immigration reform would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars. Such a figure was proven false by other partisan and non-partisan studies.
After its release, it was revealed that one of the report’s authors, Jason Richwine, had argued in his PhD dissertation that genetic differences in intelligence and aptitude existed between Caucasians, Asians, and other races. Richwine was found to have sourced numerous racist thinkers to prove the thesis of his dissertation, as well. Amid the scandal, he resigned from Heritage Foundation.
Camarota publically heralded the report as the “most detailed and exhaustive ever done on this topic.”
Camarota makes many public appearances on CIS’s behalf, and is regarded by CNC as one of the anti-immigrant movement’s leading spokespersons. On the right-wing radio program the Talk to Solomon Show, for example, Camarota said that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants birthright citizenship to children born in the United States, was “unwise” and amounts to “squatters rights.” In 2008, he went at far as to tell Time Magazine that “even if immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, their children and grandchildren may be more likely to end up on the wrong side of the law.”
Camarota’s work has appeared in John Tanton’s racist journal The Social Contract. The publication has reprinted his Congressional testimony, and it featured a CIS executive summary, authored by Camarota, titled “immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America’s Foreign-Born Population.” On September 25, Camarota contacted Imagine 2050 and said this executive summary was printed without his permission.
In 2009, a CIS report was republished in the Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, a white nationalist journal run by British anti-Semite Roger Pearson, who also openly advocates for the genetic differences between races.