ABC News Leaves Out Key Details Of Anti-Immigrant Center For Immigration Studies
ABC News published  a story which quoted several members of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) but failed to disclose the organization's ties to nativist John Tanton, who is affiliated with a designated hate group, and ignored the organization's well-established credibility problems.
On January 14, ABC News reported  on a conference held by CIS, which attacked "legalization programs for undocumented immigrants":
Analysts from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a think tank that advocates reduced immigration levels and stricter enforcement of current immigration laws, said today that legalization programs for undocumented immigrants typically lead to fraud and increased illegal immigration.
ABC provided a platform for CIS representatives to voice their opposition to a variety of proposed immigration measures, but ABC failed to provide background on CIS, despite the group's long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric, ties to nativist organizations, and lack of credibility.
The Center for Immigration Studies was started in 1985 by John Tanton, an anti-immigrant nativist  with ties to other anti-immigrant organizations such as NumbersUSA  and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled hate group . From the Southern Poverty Law Center :
Although you'd never know it to read its materials, CIS was started in 1985 by a Michigan ophthalmologist named John Tanton -- a man known for his racist statements about Latinos, his decades-long flirtation with white nationalists and Holocaust deniers, and his publication of ugly racist materials. CIS' creation was part of a carefully thought-out strategy aimed at creating a set of complementary institutions to cultivate the nativist cause -- groups including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA. As is shown in Tanton's correspondence, lodged in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Tanton came up with the idea in the early 1980s for "a small think tank" that would "wage the war of ideas."
And while Tanton never actually ran CIS, his correspondence shows that as late as 1994, nine years after it was started, Tanton, who remains on FAIR's board of directors today, saw himself as setting the "proper roles for FAIR and CIS." He raised millions of dollars for the think tank and published the writings of top CIS officials in his racist journal, The Social Contract. He maneuvered a friend on to the board of CIS -- a man who shared his interest in eugenics and who attended events with Tanton where white nationalists gave presentations. Through it all, CIS pumped out study after study aimed at highlighting immigration's negative effects.
ABC also failed to note that CIS studies have also been the subject of frequent criticism. The Southern Poverty Law Center has previously called into question  the group's findings, stating that CIS often reaches baseless conclusions which are "either false or virtually without any supporting evidence." The Center for New Community has also scrutinized  CIS and even warned professional journalists that CIS is not a "credible voice in the debate on immigration."
One of ABC's sources, CIS executive director Mark Krikorian, has a history of making insensitive remarks about other ethnic groups. He has previously claimed  that "Haiti's so screwed up because it wasn't colonized long enough," that foreign-nationals who aren't raised in the United States could become terrorists , and that Muslims  are a "vicious people." In addition, Krikorian has stated that the United States should deny pregnant women entry  to the U.S. because someone "visiting Disneyland" could give their child American citizenship (while referring to said child using the derogatory phrase "anchor baby "). None of Krikorian's past rhetoric was documented by ABC.
Unfortunately, ABC isn't the only major news outlet to treat CIS as a reasonable voice in the immigration debate. The nation's top seven newspapers  cited CIS and other anti-immigrant groups over 250 times from January 2010 through June 2012. The New York Times cited the group several times  despite publishing an exposé on the organizations unsavory ties with Tanton. NPR has also featured  Krikorian as an alternative voice to Jose Antonio Vargas during an immigration debate, despite his harsh views on immigration.