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How Organizations with Ties to Hate Groups Are Trying to Influence the Immigration Debate

The U.S. House of Representatives held its first hearings for the current session on immigration reform Tuesday. Many immigration groups also submitted official testimony for the record. One name, in particular, jumped out as questionable, at best, in terms of being an expert witness on the topic of immigration—Jessica Vaughan, who submitted a written statement. Vaughan is the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), an organization that portrays itself as an "independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization" that advocates a "low-immigration, pro-immigrant" public policy. In reality, CIS is connected to a shadowy network of anti-immigrant funders and activists who participate in or are associated with movements for white nationalism.

The CIS was founded in 1985 as a project of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Founded by Michigan native John Tanton, FAIR is a designated hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. While CIS tries to portray a more neutral public face, FAIR has no such qualms. For example, its president Dan Stein said on Tucker Carlson's TV show: "Immigrants don't come all church-loving, freedom-loving, God-fearing....Many of them hate America, hate everything that the United States stands for."

While FAIR and CIS are formally separate organizations now, they are still heavily intertwined, sharing many of the same donors and several board members, and FAIR regularly cites CIS reports in its activities. Mark Krikorian, Tanton's friend with whom he has frequently corresponded about immigration, runs CIS after holding a similar position at FAIR.

Krikorian has a very spotty record on race and immigrant issues. He spoke at a meeting of the Michigan State University's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a group that had generated significant controversy by having events, such as "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day," a "Koran Desecration" competition, and by posting "Gays Spread AIDS" fliers across campus. The same speakers series that the students hosted also included Holocaust denier Nick Griffin and Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, a racist publication that has argued that blacks are incapable of civilization

Krikorian doesn't limit himself to research but frequently writes columns for National Review that denigrate immigrants in a variety of ways:

Over the years, FAIR accepted $1.3 million from a foundation called the Pioneer Fund, which was set up in 1937 to "improve the character of the American people by promoting procreation by those of white, colonial stock." Tanton wrote Graham, saying that they had a mutual friend in Pioneer Fund's Harry Weyher. The Pioneer Fund also funded people like William B. Shockley, a famous physicist who argued that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites.

CIS Fellow John Miano and board member Carol Iannone have written for extreme white nationalist website VDARE.com. CIS and VDARE have a close connection, as staffers circulate VDARE articles to its members and CIS published at least one report from the group's founder. VDARE was founded by Peter Brimelow and publishes articles by people like Steve Sailer, who wrote: "And also, to be frank, because blacks, American Indians and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Hispanics have shown that they get corrupted faster by the 'moral hazard' of social insurance than do whites."

VDARE publishes rants by people like Taylor, the Pioneer Fund's J. Philippe Rushton and white nationalist authors like Sam Francis and Kevin MacDonald, who wrote:

Jewish activity collectively, throughout history, is best understood as an elaborate and highly successful group competitive strategy directed against neighboring peoples and host societies. The objective has been control of economic resources and political power. One example: overwhelming Jewish support for non-traditional immigration, which has the effect of weakening America’s historic white majority.

CIS members, such as Patrick McHugh, also have participated in meetings and events with former members of Congress like Tom Tancredo and Brian Bilbray and any number of members of the white nationalist movement and anti-immigrant network connected to Tanton, including Barbara Coe, head of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (who refers to Mexicans as "savages"), and Glenn Spencer, head of the American Patrol, which "arrests" undocumented immigrants on the Mexico-U.S. border. Spencer, who is convinced that Mexico wants to retake parts of the United States it lost in the Mexican-American War, wants to develop unmanned aircraft and special ground sensors to prevent further immigration across the border.

The SPLC has widely refuted claims made in CIS reports, as many of them use improper science or use anecdotal, false or nonexistent evidence. In one example, CIS staffers claimed that cities were letting non-citizens vote in significant numbers. When pressed, CIS could only produce one example of a non-citizen voting. According to the SPLC: "CIS often manipulates data, relying on shaky statistics or faulty logic to come to the preordained conclusion that immigration is bad for this country."

Tanton is not only responsible for FAIR, but he played a key role in the creation and growth of the CIS as well and is connected directly and indirectly to nearly every significant organization in the anti-immigrant community. Although he recently retired, Tanton was influential in getting his friend and close associate Otis Graham on the board of CIS.  Graham was previously on the FAIR board. Graham has a long history of participation across the anti-immigrant movement, including appearing at workshops like one called "Immigration Reform and America's Unchosen Future," where he appeared on the same stage as Frosty Wooldridge, who claims that immigrants bring a "disease jihad" to the United States and warns that immigration will bring about another Civil War. Graham himself has written that the United States is not actually a nation of immigrants, defended racist policies like the 1924 Asian Exclusion Act and minimized the participation of groups like the Ku Klux Klan in anti-immigrant history. He also credited the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies for passage of the 1924 act without noting their pro-Nazi, anti-semitic activities. Graham completed one of his books with advice from Tanton and CIS congressional witness Jessica Vaughn. He also has written articles suggesting that racial and ethnic diversity leads to more social problems and that immigrants will lower the skills and wages in the U.S. economy.

Tanton's journal, "The Social Contract," has published a who's who of white nationalist writers. The magazine was co-edited by Wayne Lutton, who is heavily associated with the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens. Tanton co-authored "The Immigration Invasion" with Lutton as well, and Lutton became a trustee of the New Century Foundation, which publishes Taylor's American Renaissance. Board members and writers for "The Social Contract" have included Graham, Krikorian, Francis, CIS Director of Research Steven Camarota and CIS Fellow Don Barnett, as well as CIS board members Frank Morris, Vernon Briggs, William Chip, John Vinson of the American Immigration Control Foundation, Joseph Fallon and James Lubinskas of American Renaissance, Derek Turner of Right Now and Michael Masters of Virginia Council of Conservative Citizens.

Social Contact Press also translated, published and promoted "The Camp of the Saints," a racist apocalyptic novel written by French author Jean Raspail. The book tells the story of a fictional invasion of Europe by "hordes of sex-crazed Africans, dirty Arabs and 'Hindus' who enslave white women on sex farms." 

Tanton has made his personal feelings very clear: "I've come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority—and a clear one at that." He also asked: "Will Latin American migrants bring with them the tradition of the mordida (bribe), the lack of involvement in public affairs, etc.?" and wrote, "On the demographic point: perhaps this is the first instance in which those with their pants up are going to get caught by those with their pants down!"

Read more about John Tanton from the SPLC

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