by Fidel G Luciano, a student at UC Berkeley
Amid the efforts of the Occupy Cal movement to create a more inclusive and higher quality public university, it seems unfitting that the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and the UC Berkeley Law School hosted a conference this week featuring two speakers from the John Tanton Network of anti-immigrant groups.
Titled “The Changing Face of America: Immigration from the Ground Up”, the aforementioned speakers were none other than Steven Camarota and Mark Krikorian from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), who both appeared on panels on Tuesday, November 15.
At the panel discussion, UC Berkeley students challenged the speakers’ seemingly “neutral” and unbiased stance on immigration, while also passing out fliers headlined, “Two panelists are not how they appear….CIS has a controversial agenda.” One Cal student reported that without the fliers, many in the audience might have “come away from the conference feeling like Krikorian’s lightly veiled racist views sounded ‘reasonable.’ And that is exactly CIS’s aim.”
Along with Audrey Singer from the Brookings Institution and Dowell Myers from University of Southern California, Steven Camarota spoke on a panel to discuss demographic changes in the US. Mark Krikorian, executive director of CIS, spoke on a panel in the afternoon with John Sandweg from the Department of Homeland Security that covered deportations and removals.
If you’ve never heard of Center for Immigration Studies, take a look at some of their most disgusting remarks here. Furthermore, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) was, of course, founded by virulent anti-immigrant leader and eugenics supporter John Tanton. CIS claims mainstream credibility but yet works with white nationalist groups and leaders with fervent and invested stakes in nativist social and political agendas.
For example, Stephen Camarota, director of research at CIS, published* an article in the August 31 edition of American Free Press (AFP), an anti-Semitic journal which promotes holocaust denial. Falling in line with this, Camarota’s own piece expressed clear anti-Semitic sentiments. Mark Krikorian, in response to the earthquake tragedy in Haiti, once infamously quipped: “Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.”
The Center for Immigration Studies also regularly circulates articles produced by the white nationalist website VDARE, which is named after Virginia Dare, allegedly the first white child born on North American soil.
As students increasingly aspire to economic and racial justice, our schools, UC Berkeley being just one example, have a direct responsibility to be forthright, and to disclose the documented history of such featured “guests,” especially those who are enmeshed in the white nationalist and/or anti-immigrant movements. UC Berkeley has always been a vanguard institution in the fight for positive social change; it should not tarnish this hard-earned legacy by allowing such contentious figures to spread their divisive agendas.
Mark Krikorian and Steven Camarota, whose only aim is to pound wedges into our communities, must not be allowed to carve social spaces that are designed to accommodate bigotry anywhere, including on our campuses.
*American Free Press ran two articles by Stephen Camarota. When asked for an explanation, Camarota responded that he wasn’t sure how AFP received the article, but that nothing gets re-published without the permission of CIS. We regret this factual error.