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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jill Garvey: Anti-Immigrant Leaders Testify for House Subcommittee

Originally posted at Imagine 2050. Imagine 2050 is project which includes activists, immigrants, artists and students who are invested in a future nation that embraces multiculturalism and tolerance.

Anti-Immigrant Leaders Testify for House Subcommittee
March 10, 2011 by Jill Garvey

Today, the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement will conduct a hearing entitled, “New Jobs in Recession and Recovery: Who Are Getting Them and Who Are Not.”

The majority GOP witnesses are Steven Camarota of Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Greg Serbon of Indiana Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (IFIRE). Both are anti-immigrant leaders tied to FAIR and white nationalist John Tanton.

It is troubling that Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Steve King (R-IA) – dubbed the “rabid anti-immigration trio of powerful GOP congressmen” by the NY Daily News – are continuing to call witnesses from the same small pool of controversial anti-immigrant groups.  It sends a strong signal that they are not interested in expert opinions on the issue, but rather opinions that support their extreme efforts to dehumanize immigrants.

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) was founded by white nationalist John Tanton as a project directly under the control of FAIR. The Washington, D.C.-based think tank portrays itself as a mainstream organization that studies the impact of immigration in the United States. An oral history by John Tanton describes how CIS came to be: “… (W)e were running our publication and research efforts out of FAIR. It seemed that…outsiders might see these publications as just serving the interests of the organization, rather than fairly assessing the issues. So it was decided that we should set up an independent and more academic effort that would be removed from the daily fray…”

With a network populated by individuals with ties to political extremists, including white nationalists, CIS was created to establish credibility for FAIR. Tanton himself described the objective of CIS as an attempt “(t)o expand our fund-raising machine…We need to get CIS fully-funded and entrenched as a major Washington think-tank, one that can venture into issues which FAIR is not yet ready to raise.”

Steven Camarota is the director of research at CIS. In 2009, an article written by Camarota appeared in two issues of the anti-Semitic newspaper American Free Press. Camarota and CIS denied giving the newspaper permission to run his article.

Also in 2009, a CIS report was reprinted in the Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies. The journal is run by longtime anti-Semite Roger Pearson.

But these aren’t just isolated incidents. CIS circulates articles published on the website on a weekly basis to its subscribers. VDARE is named after Virginia Dare, allegedly the first white child born in the U.S. VDARE was founded and is currently run by white nationalist Peter Brimelow. CIS’ most recent circulation was a article written on March 3, 2011.

In December of 2009, in response to controversy over a Salvation Army policy that barred the children of undocumented immigrants from receiving charitable Christmas gifts, Camarota told a Tennessee newspaper, “Charities have the right to set requirements, even if it means children of illegal immigrants go without toys.”

The author of a 2008 Time magazine article featuring Camarota stated, “Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter immigration controls, warns that even if immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, their children and grandchildren may be more likely to end up on the wrong side of the law.”

Camarota is with like-minded company at CIS. His boss, Mark Krikorian, the Executive Director of CIS stated the following after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010: “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.”

The second witness in question is Greg Serbon, State Director of Indiana Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (IFIRE). He co-founded the group with Cheree Calabro, who indicated in an article on the FAIR’s website that FAIR staffers helped her and Serbon create the group in 2004. And IFIRE is listed on FAIR’s website as a state contact group.

FAIR was founded by white nationalist John Tanton in 1979. FAIR solicited and received over $1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a foundation that has a history of promoting the genetic superiority of white, European-Americans. The Pioneer Fund uses its financial largesse to fund groups who promote “race-betterment” – a controversial theory that claims there is a biologically-caused IQ difference between white and non-white people. FAIR is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to FAIR’s 2007 990 Form, it donated $1,000 to IFIRE for “public education” purposes that year.

In 2009, IFIRE promoted a report written by Edwin Rubenstein that was published in the white nationalist quarterly journal The Social Contract. The journal is published by John Tanton. In 2009, Serbon emailed an article published on to IFIRE members.

Serbon and IFIRE continue to collaborate with FAIR in Indiana. As recently as February 2011, FAIR staff testified for an Indiana state senate committee along with Greg Serbon and Cheree Calabro in support of SB 590.

Reps. Gallegly, Smith and King are already well aware of the Tanton Network’s anti-immigrant stance. Steve King is a prominent member of the legislative arm of the network, State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), which works closely with FAIR.

In fact, the Center for Immigration Studies was blasted before it ever arrived for the party. At the subcommittee’s last hearing on March 1, Rep. Maxine Waters stated,

“As we discuss and debate these issues regarding immigration policy, I think it is important for the Committee and the public to be aware of any biases that may impact the witnesses’ testimony. Since the majority often calls a representative from the Center for Immigration Studies to testify, I am concerned that this organization’s ‘research’ may be more politically motivated than out of genuine concern for the unemployment rate among American minorities.”

Let’s hope that today some members of the subcommittee continue to expose these witnesses for what they are: anti-immigrant and without credibility.


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