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House committee witnesses should be honest about their affiliations

Stephen Piggott • Jan 26, 2011

Michael Cutler

At 1pm EST today, the House Committee’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement will be holding a hearing on “ICE Worksite Enforcement.”

Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Elton Gallegly (R-CA), and Immigration Subcommittee Vice Chairman Steve King (R-IA) have called two people from the same anti-immigrant group as their witnesses - Mark Krikorian executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Michael Cutler, a Fellow with CIS.

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 built by white nationalist John Tanton.

It’s unlikely that Michael Cutler will tell the rest of the Subcommittee members of his affiliation with CIS.  In what one can possibly assume is an effort to convince legislators that there are independent experts with exactly the same anti-immigrant positions, Cutler is not appearing as a representative of CIS.

So who exactly is Cutler representing at the hearing? That remains unclear.

Cutler is listed as a Fellow on CIS’ website but he recently stated that he is only a Fellow at CIS because the group asked him to join. He further noted that he is not opposed to others connecting him to CIS but that he does not consider himself a Fellow. But he actually does admit that he is a Fellow. Get all that?

CIS agrees that Cutler is indeed a Fellow at the organization, but that he would not be representing the group at the hearing.

When asked if they knew who he would be representing, CIS staff said that Cutler would be representing Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). Cutler is listed by CAPS as a “Senior Writing Fellow.” He also regularly contributes to CAPS’ blog.

Californians For Population Stabilization (CAPS) is an anti-immigrant group that insists that immigrants are responsible for the “destruction of forests, national parks, and natural habitats….over-consumption of precious natural resources; deadly sewage on our beaches; continually expanding urban sprawl; and more.”

CAPS staff said they did not know if Cutler would be indentified as a CAPS representative at the hearing.

They were quick to note however that Cutler would certainly be voicing the views of CAPS at the hearing.

This is not the first time leaders within the Tanton Network have had issues of transparency when brought before members of Congress. In 2001 and 2004, Roy Beck of NumbersUSA was questioned by Congressman Chris Cannon of Utah over his connections to white nationalist John Tanton, the architect of the current anti-immigrant movement in the United States.

Beck attempted to dodged or downplay questions about his connections to Tanton – a tactic that made Cannon increasingly frustrated with Beck’s answers. And increasingly persistent.

If Michael Cutler is a Fellow for CIS then why was his affiliation not disclosed for this panel?

If CAPS believes that Cutler will be voicing its view on the subject of “ICE Work Enforcement” then why wouldn’t he be upfront about affiliating with that group? Whose interests does Michael Cutler really represent?

Let’s hope these are questions that the Subcommittee will have for Michael Cutler today. The American public has a right to know who and why so-called experts want to influence our lawmakers.

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