Our VoiceImmigration

Conflict of Intent: Anti-Immigrant Group Listed as Embassy Resource


Brian Schultz • May 11, 2011

In another appeal to the American populace, the anti-immigrant movement has again sought recognition as a mainstream talking head. Though unclear as to when it received the designation, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) is listed as a resource on the United States embassy website for Mexico.

Under its characteristic “non-partisan” rouse, the organization no doubt garnered this endorsement through the (to say the least) auspicious posturing laid out in its self-description: “The Center is animated by a pro-immigrant, low-immigration vision which seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted.”

This becomes just one more example of an anti-immigrant group reaping popularity through patriotic bravado; more specifically, it allows CIS to distance itself from its founder, white nationalist John Tanton—a task of no small consequence since the public disclosure of his ideas in a New York Times article.

But CIS’s “pro-immigrant, low-immigration” proposal doesn’t fall far from the bigotry of its founder. While it sounds superficially deserving of the government’s support, in actuality the Center conjures the same old crisis of national identity: those immigrants making it far enough to receive the “warmer welcome” would probably all look and think very much like the employees at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Indeed, its employees have made careers out of identifying “others” unfit for the nation:

  • CIS fellow James R. Edwards has proposed “broader grounds for exclusion” when considering visa applicants, and suggested that “In-depth examination of visa applicants’ beliefs and attitudes toward Western democracy and liberty could be part of the screening process.”
  • In a 2008 report, CIS fellow David Seminara referred to immigrants who marry U.S. citizens as “Third-world gold-diggers.”
  • Executive director Mark Krikorian has run the gamut of sneering chauvinisms, from stating that “Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough,” to vehemently asserting that “immigration is not a civil right,” and most recently claiming that “in the Islamic world democracy faces the problem of a vicious people.”

It’s not difficult to imagine what CIS could mean by “pro-immigrant,” in that it’s an idea resembling the ideology of their benefactor John Tanton. What is difficult to imagine is that a group of nationalists seeking relentless exclusion could also represent the United States government.

For CIS, foreign policy equates to building a wall.

Should the United States be wearing this policy with the world watching?

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