Our VoiceImmigration

The Anti-immigrant Movement’s Bizarre Take on Gay Immigrants


Jill Garvey • May 16, 2011

Writers with anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) have a strange preoccupation with same-sex couples. Especially for a “non-partisan” organization that is apparently only concerned with the issue of immigration.

Last week, David North wrote on the CIS website about Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent move to overrule a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals to deport an immigrant who is in a civil union with a U.S. citizen.

North described the various reactions he expected to Holder’s decision and then gave his own opinion:

“supporting marriage rights (such as non-deportation of married aliens) of gays will have only the slightest immediate impact on the burgeoning population of America and none on its long-term size – because gay couples do not reproduce.”

Wait, what? Most gay couples are in fact perfectly capable of reproducing. It doesn’t take a genius to know of the many options available these days to same-sex couples who wish to start a family. And the gay community is filled with families, so the idea that gay couples don’t reproduce is just silly.

North made this comment in an effort to impress upon us that he doesn’t have a problem with gay couples per se, just with overpopulation and law-breaking (he goes on to describe two undocumented gay men as “visa-abusers”).

But it’s hard to take his article at face value. For one thing, if he thinks gay couples can’t reproduce, then he hasn’t given the matter much thought. Secondly, CIS has a very recent history of gay bashing.

In another article posted on the group’s website, CIS fellow James R. Edwards Jr. linked the Obama Administration’s refusal to continue supporting the Defense of Marriage Act to a forthcoming invasion of gay immigrants who will soon be flooding the nation. He characterized it as Obama “pushing the envelope recently in the culture wars.”

Edwards’s arguments almost mirrored those made previously by CIS executive director Mark Krikorian.

Krikorian has made several comments indicating that he is likely just as homophobic as he is xenophobic. In one example, Krikorian defended the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group that spearheads national campaigns bashing gays and lesbians. In a September 2010 post in National Review Online, Krikorian wrote, “So now McCain has two extreme Obama positions on immigration to attack: driver’s licenses for illegals and immigration for gay couples. Will McCain ever use them to criticize Obama?”

In a June 4, 2010 article in the Boston Globe, Mr. Krikorian strongly opposed the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to grant a temporary entry into the U.S. to Genesio Oliveira of Brazil. Mr. Oliveira was allowed to be reunited with his spouse, Tim Coco, for at least one year on humanitarian grounds.

In the same article, Mr. Krikorian says, “It’s a side-door attempt at changing the Defense of Marriage Act…that’s the problem with our immigration laws; it’s just this vast collection of exceptions for people who get the attention of a particular bureaucrat or judge or politician.”

Center for Immigration Studies was founded by white nationalist John Tanton in 1985. And his ideas clearly still guide the organization’s focus. Krikorian himself has long enjoyed the support of Tanton. But the group has been under intense criticism the last few months for its affiliation with Tanton.

In fact, the New York Times devoted not one but two articles to the matter in recent weeks.

In light of this, North’s article may be nothing more than CIS trying to clean up its image and appear “non-partisan.” Although, one has to wonder if awkwardly and inaccurately discussing the gay community is the way to go.

It’s clear that CIS long ago geared its anti-immigrant messaging to homophobic audiences in an effort to whip up false immigration fears. And an off-the-cuff comment about gay immigrants being “less worrisome” than other immigrant groups doesn’t change that.

The question we have to ask ourselves about groups like Center for Immigration Studies is who fits into their narrow vision for America?

Latino immigrants certainly don’t make the cut. And gays and lesbians obviously don’t either.

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