Center For Immigration Studies Gives "Journalism Award" To Writer Who Denigrates Immigrants

››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

The Center for Immigration Studies gave Tucson Weekly writer Leo W. Banks an award for "excellence in the coverage of immigration." However, in his writing, Banks has used dehumanizing and anti-immigrant language and has promoted the myth of extensive violence in United States along the border.

CIS Gives Banks "Award For Excellence In the Coverage Of Immigration"

CIS Presents Leo W. Banks With Its Annual "Eugene Katz Award." From the Center for Immigration Studies' website:

Leo W. Banks is the recipient of the 2011 Eugene Katz Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Immigration. The award, presented annually by the Center for Immigration Studies, is intended to highlight good reporting in a field where so much of the coverage is formulaic and mawkish. [CIS.org, June 2011]

CIS Claims It Is A "Research Organization" Where Many Are "Animated By A 'Low-Immigration, Pro-Immigrant' Vision"

CIS Says Its Research Data "May Support Criticism Of Us Immigration Policies, But They Do Not Justify Ill Feelings Toward Our Immigrant Community." From a page on the CIS website titled "About the Center for Immigration Studies":

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, research organization. Since our founding in 1985, we have pursued a single mission -- providing immigration policymakers, the academic community, news media, and concerned citizens with reliable information about the social, economic, environmental, security, and fiscal consequences of legal and illegal immigration into the United States.

[...]

The data collected by the Center during the past quarter-century has led many of our researchers to conclude that current, high levels of immigration are making it harder to achieve such important national objectives as better public schools, a cleaner environment, homeland security, and a living wage for every native-born and immigrant worker. These data may support criticism of US immigration policies, but they do not justify ill feelings toward our immigrant community. In fact, many of us at the Center are animated by a "low-immigration, pro-immigrant" vision of an America that admits fewer immigrants but affords a warmer welcome for those who are admitted. [CIS.org, accessed 6/8/11]

Click here for more on how the Center for Immigration Studies distorts the realities of immigration.

Banks Uses Dehumanizing And Anti-Immigrant Language

When Writing About Immigration, Banks Has Repeatedly Referred To An "Invasion," "Invaders," And "Illegals."

  • "How much trash has been dropped since this invasion began? Try 24 million pounds, from the Colorado River to the New Mexico line. The federal Bureau of Land Management made that estimate in 2007 and called it conservative. The agency uses a formula of eight pounds of trash dropped per day, per person." [Tucson Weekly, 4/2/09]
  • "I recently walked and drove major portions of the Amnesty Trail. I talked to people who live along the path of this remorseless invasion, borrowed some photographs of its effects, and took some of my own. Together, these words and pictures provide a documentary account of the ongoing catastrophe on Arizona's border and beyond. [...] The hardest-hit area is below Garcia Road, a dirt track running east to west about a mile north of the border. This parcel became such a hotbed of criminal activity that in October, Ellis ordered 3,500 acres off limits to the public -- American land effectively taken out of American hands by the invaders." [Tucson Weekly, 2/15/07]
  • "This goes on almost daily, 75 miles southwest of Tucson -- invaders from countries around the world coming across this international boundary in a time of war, a time when nuts would like nothing better than to sneak into this country and murder Americans on a grand scale." [Tucson Weekly, 8/11/05]
  • "But this is Southern Arizona under siege, so there really is only one subject on the agenda, one issue that dominates all others here: the border with Mexico and the invasion of illegals who, every day and every night, rush to fill this yawning vacuum." [Tucson Weekly, 3/10/05]

Banks Referred To Immigrants As "Deports." Banks wrote:

Rito is still being held on a charge of re-entry after deportation. He, too, had been previously deported through Nogales, on Feb. 11, 2010. If the pattern holds, he will plead to a misdemeanor, get time served and be deported again, rather than being tried and given substantial jail time -- which means Border Patrol agents would risk encountering him again in the canyons, and Peck Corridor residents will risk encountering him in their backyards.

The same applies to many prior deports and explains why smuggling corridors such as the one through Peck Canyon are so out of control. Consequences are minimal; the law does not deter. [Tucson Weekly, 5/19/11]

Banks Promotes Myth Of Extensive Border Violence In U.S.

Banks' Acceptance Speech Discussed The Major Topic Of His Work: Border Violence. From the Center for Immigration Studies' transcript of the 2011 Katz Award Ceremony:

[President Obama] was giving his immigration speech and he was talking about how border security activists will never be satisfied until we get a moat with alligators in the moat. Well, there's two problems with that. First of all, the drug smugglers will shoot the alligators lickety-split. (Laughter.)

Secondly, we know that Obama's going to go nowhere near the moat or the alligators; he's going to stay in the most secure house in the land talking down to folks who live on smuggling routes who, every day of their lives, live with pistols on their hips, pistols in their pickup trucks, pistols by their nightstands, hoping against hope that they don't run into some methed-up, cross-border smuggler who thinks, for whatever reason, that you just called Border Patrol on him.

A day or so after the alligator speech -- and I can tell you how that was received in southern Arizona: It ticked people off in a big way -- I got a call from a friend of mine, just spitting mad. And he kept saying over and over again, "Obama's laughing at us. He's laughing at us." And this fellow's anger is justified.

He lives along the Chiricahua smuggling corridor in southeast Arizona. If you know Arizona geography at all, southeast corner of the state, right near New Mexico, is the little town of Douglas. You come north on Highway 80 and there's a mountain range on the Mexico side, a mountain range on the Arizona side and the corridor sort of runs between. It's very active. It's very dangerous, as a smuggling corridor. It has been for years.

Some residents have had their homes broken into five times; some 10; some 17 times. It's an article of faith that, if you want to go out at night with the family and go to town to get something to eat, you'd better leave somebody at home to watch the house. And if you're going away for a vacation for a period of time, you need a house-sitter because your home will be occupied.

And here's Obama joking, first about -- first, he sues us, all right, for SB 1070, and then he's making jokes about alligators and moats. So you can understand the frustration of this fellow who called me. And by the way, this is Rob Krentz's brother-in-law who called me, and Rob Krentz is -- if you know the name -- he was murdered March 27, 2010, in this same corridor. [CIS.org, June 2011]

Banks Cited Border Violence To Advocate Against McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform. Banks wrote in the National Review:

I know how to kill the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill and the illusions that inspire it. We need every citizen to spend a day at John and Pat King's Anvil Ranch in southern Arizona. The experience would create an overnight revolution in America's view of this domestic crisis.

The Kings live every day with barking dogs, vandalism, guns at their bedside, trash on their land, and most tragically, human remains. The bodies of seven illegals were found on the 50,000-acre Anvil last year.

[...]

Certainly the McCain-Kennedy bill will do nothing to change life here. Pat likens the bill, with its plan for amnesty, a guest-worker program, and negligible enforcement, to swatting flies in your house with the doors and windows wide open.

Ask yourself: Would the Altar Valley be a war zone if McCain lived here? If Kennedy's Hyannis Port compound were magically transplanted to southern Arizona, how long do you think it'd be before he rewrote his bill? The first time Kennedy saw 30 illegals dashing across his property, he'd trip over his Guatemalan lawn guy rushing to the Senate floor to demand enforcement.

That's one of the American tragedies at play here, the abandonment of ordinary citizens by our country's elites, and most strikingly, the abandonment of the very laws they themselves have written.

The resulting invasion has driven legal Arizona residents from their land, including John King's aunt. [National Review, 5/11/06, via Nexis]

But Crime In AZ Border Towns Has Remained Flat Or Declined

Crime Rates In Arizona At Lowest Point In Decades. According to Justice Department crime statistics, the violent crime rate in Arizona has been trending downward for the past two decades and was lower in 2008 and 2009 -- the most recent year from which data are available -- than any year since 1976. [Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, accessed 6/9/11]

AZ Republic: FBI Data Shows That "Violent Crime And Homicides Have Remained Flat." On August 12, 2010, The Arizona Republic's AZ Fact Check noted that while crime on the Mexican side of the border has increased, crime in Arizona border communities has not:

FBI Uniform Crime Report data from Arizona border counties and towns show that violent crime and homicides have remained flat or in several cases decreased slightly from 2004 to 2008, the most recent available numbers. For example, there were 77 violent crimes reported in Nogales in 2004 compared with 69 in 2008. There were 716 violent crimes reported in Cochise County in 2004 compared with 446 in 2008. [AZCentral.com, 8/12/10]

AZ Republic: Border Patrol Says "Krentz Is The Only American Murdered By A Suspected Illegal Immigrant In At Least A Decade Within The Agency's Tucson Sector." The Arizona Central Republic reported on May 2, 2010:

Since the murder of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz by a suspected illegal immigrant in March, politicians and the national press have fanned a perception that the border is inundated with bloodshed and that it's escalating.

[...]

Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County, said there always has been crime associated with smuggling in southern Arizona, but today's rhetoric does not seem to jibe with reality.

"This is a media-created event," Dupnik said. "I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure."

Even Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, among the most strident critics of federal enforcement, concedes that notions of cartel mayhem are exaggerated. "We're not seeing the multiple killings, beheadings and shootouts that are going on on the other side," he said.

In fact, according to the Border Patrol, Krentz is the only American murdered by a suspected illegal immigrant in at least a decade within the agency's Tucson sector, the busiest smuggling route among the Border Patrol's nine coverage regions along the U.S.-Mexican border.[AZCentral.com, 5/2/10]

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