Center for Immigration Studies

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  • Media Run With Discredited Nativist Group's Research To Claim More Than Half Of Immigrant Households Receive "Welfare"

    More Questionable Research From The SPLC-Labeled Nativist Group, The Center For Immigration Studies

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Numerous conservative media outlets are parroting the misleading conclusions of a September 2015 report by an anti-immigrant nativist group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claims that "immigrant households use welfare at significantly higher rates than native households." Like previous flawed CIS studies, these findings have been called into question by immigration experts for failing to account for the economic hardship of some immigrant families, lumping American-born beneficiaries into "immigrant household" categorizations, and conflating numerous anti-poverty programs with so-called "welfare."

  • CNN Cites Discredited Anti-Immigrant Group To Stoke Fears About Undocumented Immigrants Exploiting Birthright Citizenship

    ››› ››› NICHOLAS ROGERS & NICK FERNANDEZ

    CNN's Alisyn Camerota legitimized presidential candidate Donald Trump's immigration policy plan to end birthright citizenship by citing a noted anti-immigrant organization, the Center For Immigration Studies (CIS), to claim that 36,000 undocumented immigrant women come to the U.S. specifically to give birth and establish citizenship for their babies. CIS has admitted that its estimate of how many women visit the U.S. to give birth lacks certainty, immigration experts agree there is no evidence to support that number, and no immigration-based incentive exists for undocumented immigrants to give birth in the U.S. since the mother wouldn't become a citizen until two or three decades later.

  • Ann Coulter's 'Adios, America' Is Just A Series Of Recycled Nativist Talking Points

    ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES

    Conservative commentator Ann Coulter recently credited hate website VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow with inspiring the attacks on progressive immigration policy within her new book, 'Adios, America.' In fact, many of the ideas presented in the book appear to be closely modeled after ideas presented by white nationalist and anti-immigrant extremist movements in America.

  • Los Mitos Anti-Inmigración Más Absurdos De 2014

    ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES & CRISTINA LOPEZ

    In 2014, right-wing media attacked immigrants and immigration reform by pushing baseless claims, relying on debunked research, and using misleading statistics about immigrants and the impact of immigration on the United States. Here is a look back at the most absurd anti-immigrant myths of 2014.

  • Right-Wing Media Push Misleading Study Claiming All Job Growth Has Gone To Immigrants

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Conservative media outlets amplified a misleading study from the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, which claimed that "all net employment growth has gone to immigrants" between November 2007 and November 2014. But data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that job growth among the native-born has far outpaced job growth among immigrants during the economic recovery.

  • The Most Absurd Anti-Immigrant Myths Of 2014

    ››› ››› JESSICA TORRES & CRISTINA LOPEZ

    In 2014, right-wing media attacked immigrants and immigration reform by pushing baseless claims, relying on debunked research, and using misleading statistics about immigrants and the impact of immigration on the United States. Here is a look back at the most absurd anti-immigrant myths of 2014.

  • Fox Report Cherry-Picks Immigration Data To Stoke Terrorism Fears

    Blog ››› ››› CHANCE SEALES

    Fox News hyped fears that an influx of immigrants from the Middle East could pose a terrorism threat for the U.S., advocating for greater immigration from English-speaking countries. But Fox's report parrots a study released by the anti-immigration group, the Center for Immigration Studies, and ignored the fact that the growth of Middle East immigrants in the U.S. was modest when compared to other regions.

    The September 25 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto cited data that shows 41.3 million "legal and illegal" immigrants currently in the United States and stoked fears over "where a lot of them are coming from." Cavuto highlighted the increased immigration from countries in the Middle East from 2010 to 2013, lamenting the "disproportionate" number of immigrants of Arab descent compared to immigrants from western countries.  Guest and conservative pundit Pat Buchanan suggested that the rise in immigrants from the Middle East would increase terror threats in the United States.

    Buchanan asserted that "you've got to look with more concern at folks coming out of there than you would look at folks, for example, native born Brits coming over to the United States who speak English perfectly," because the majority of terrorism is committed "by children of immigrants and immigrants themselves from Islamic countries":

  • Who Are Fox's Newest Experts On Immigration?

    ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA & SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Over the past three months, Fox has amplified the voices of two anti-immigrant guests, Michael Cutler and Dennis Michael Lynch, hosting them at least 13 times to rail against immigration reform and bash immigrants. Cutler, a former immigration officer, has an extensive history of associating with anti-immigrant, nativist organizations. Lynch is a documentary filmmaker whose expertise on immigration seems to stem only from directing two anti-immigrant films that have been heavily promoted by nativist organizations.

  • What The Media Should Know About The Anti-Immigrant "DC March For Jobs"

    ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA & SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    The Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA), an anti-immigrant coalition that has ties to nativist hate groups, is hosting a rally in Washington, D.C., on July 15 with the purported mission to "preserve economic opportunity for American workers" by opposing immigration reform. Here is what the media should know about the group and its effort.

  • Right-Wing Media Find Another Flawed Immigration Study To Highlight

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Photo credit: Larry Downing/ReutersRight-wing media outlets are hyping a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled nativist organization -- which claims that the Senate's immigration bill would double the number of guest workers admitted into the country each year. The study, however, is just the latest in a series of flawed, debunked studies that CIS has released.

    The outlets - including the Daily Caller, NewsmaxThe Washington Times, Breitbart.com, and Drudge Report -- have all highlighted the study which claims that in the first year of the Senate's proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill, "nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed" will be admitted to the United States. The study also claims that the bill would double the number of temporary workers admitted each year compared to current levels.

    What these outlets fail to mention is that, like many of CIS' previous studies -- and others they have latched on to in order to undermine immigration reform -- this study is flawed and its conclusions are bogus.

    Philip Wolgin, senior policy analyst for immigration at the Center for American Progress, emphasized the top five reasons the CIS study "misses the mark," including its lack of methodology, double-counting temporary and permanent immigrants, misrepresenting who will actually compete with American workers, and the miscounting of visa categories. Wolgin explained that CIS makes significant statistical errors, including what he calls the "absurd" idea that 950,000 people would apply for and be granted the V Visa in the first year after the immigration reform bill's passage.

    The V visa is a temporary visa that allows the family members of legal permanent residents to remain in the country legally until they are granted permanent residency as well. As the Center for American Progress explained, even though 75 percent of spouses and children of permanent residents are exempted from per-country quotas, some families still face up to 19 years apart due to backlogs in the immigration system.

    Wolgin also pointed out that among the three visa categories that make up 83 percent of the increases in the CIS study, CIS over-counted by more than 255,000 people.

  • Laura Ingraham Hosts Nativist Group Director To Push Debunked Immigration Myth

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Radio host Laura Ingraham hosted the executive director of Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), Leah Durant, to push the debunked myth that the immigration reform bill would hurt the African-American unemployment rate, despite studies which show the opposite is true.

    On the June 4 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, Ingraham introduced Durant as a "progressive" voice on the issue and not a "right-wing bomb thrower." Durant explained that her group is against the immigration bill because it would have "devastating consequences" on low-skilled workers, specifically in the black community:

    However, Durant's organization is a pretty far cry from a "progressive" group. Progressives for Immigration Reform was set up as part of the John Tanton network of anti-immigrant nativists after they failed to take over the Sierra Club, which the Southern Poverty Law Center called "greenwashing" -- a tactic used by nativist groups to appeal to environmentalists in order to mainstream their nativist viewpoints in a more respectable venue. In another attempt at "greenwashing" right-wing groups established Progressives for Immigration Reform "as a purported group of 'liberals' " in the latest attempt "by nativist forces to appear as something they are not."

    Imagine 2050, an organization that promotes a multiracial democracy, highlighted some of PFIR's links to the anti-immigrant movement, including the fact that nativist Roy Beck, head of NumbersUSA, helped recruit the executive director of PFIR. In addition, several of the group's members, including Durant, have close ties to Tanton's other groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies -- groups labeled nativist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    In fact, as the Anti-Defamation League pointed out, at a recent conference run by PFIR, several notable anti-immigrant nativists were in attendance, including VDARE's Peter Brimelow, Wayne Lutton, editor of The Social Contract, an anti-immigrant pro-white publication, and K.C. McAlpin, president of U.S., Inc. who once defended banning Muslim immigrants as similar to banning communists or Nazis in the past.

    While the group's ties are problematic enough, the claim that immigration would hurt African-Americans' job prospects is also false and has been called a "pernicious myth" by Daniel Griswold of the Cato Institute. Several comprehensive studies have shown that there is no evidence to support the claim. In fact, wages for native-born Americans tend to increase as a result of immigration -- including one estimate which found that due to immigration native-born African-American workers saw a wage increase of .4 percent from 1994 to 2007.

  • Anti-Immigrant Fox Guest Falsely Ties Boston Bombings To Deferred Action Program

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Fox News guest Michael Cutler, a former agent with the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Services and also a fellow at the nativist organization the Center for Immigration Studies, used the Boston Marathon bombing investigation to attack the deferred action program for undocumented students. In reality, the program, which is intended to provide deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, is unrelated to the circumstances of the suspects' immigration status

    During a discussion with Fox News host Megyn Kelly about recent arrests in the Boston Marathon bombings, Cutler used the fact that one of the suspects reportedly was here on a student visa to attack the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After casting doubt on the process by which asylum is granted, Cutler brought up DACA and suggested the program had similar security lapses. He asked: "Do you really think anyone is scrutinizing anything?" He also claimed that the program approves 99.5 percent of applicants: 

    In fact, those who qualify for deferred action are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before age 16. While the Boston bombings suspects' current immigration status is in dispute, they were reportedly in the United States under student visas and were legal non-immigrants.

    Currently, there is not a mandatory in-person screening process for DACA applicants. However, in-person interviews may be requested for applicants who are suspected of fraud and for quality assurance purposes. But the process to apply is so arduous that these applicants are heavily scrutinized. Other than the several pieces of identifying documentation needed to begin the process as well as the $465 in fees, each applicant must go through a biographic and biometric background test.

  • Fox Inadvertently Makes Case For Immigration Reform

    ››› ››› SAMANTHA WYATT

    Fox News has repeatedly invoked the Boston bombings to suggest that immigration reform could exacerbate existing problems within the immigration system. However, their commentary actually highlights shortcomings that the bipartisan Senate bill will address in full.

  • Right-Wing Media Push Debunked Immigrant Welfare Claim

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Fox News and National Review Online gave credence to claims about immigrant's use of social benefits by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) without noting that immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to rely on such programs.

    In a Fox News segment about the cost of comprehensive immigration reform to taxpayers, host Neil Cavuto allowed CIS research director Steven Camarota to repeat the myth that immigrants use social benefits at higher rates than native-born Americans because they are less educated, and that, if given legal status, they would stay on welfare. Cavuto did not challenge any of Camarota's claims:

    Camarota's CIS counterpart, executive director Mark Krikorian, penned a column for National Review Online to further establish the myth, saying that, if you control for income, immigrants' rate of use of social benefit programs is less than that of poor Americans. He added that this means that "immigration imports a better class of underclass."

    Numerous studies have debunked the claim that immigrants use public benefits in greater numbers than Americans, which Krikorian admitted in his column, albeit with a clear caveat. Moreover, as the Cato Institute explained when it took issue with CIS' study on immigrants and their use of public benefits, CIS uses a flawed methodology that counts the American-born children of immigrants along with undocumented or legal immigrants to determine costs:

    Our approach of counting immigrant welfare use individually is used by the conservative state of Texas to measure immigrant use of government education and other benefits.  The Texas Comptroller's Office did not include the children of immigrants who were American citizens when calculating the cost to public services in Texas because, "the inclusion of these children dramatically increased the costs."

    [...]

    In other words, counting the cost of the children of immigrants who are born citizens is a bad approach.  If we were to follow Camarota's methodology, why not count the welfare costs of the great-grandchildren of immigrants who use welfare or public schools today?  Our study, on the other hand, measures the welfare cost of non-naturalized immigrants and, where possible, naturalized Americans.

  • Wash. Post Omits Crucial Facts In Article About Immigrants And Social Security

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    The Washington Post quoted the research director of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) arguing that immigrants are a drain on public services without noting that the center's analysis on the issue has been criticized as flawed. A study by the libertarian Cato Institute found that immigrants are actually less likely to rely on public benefits than native-born Americans.

    In an article examining the effect immigrants have on Social Security, the Post noted that many undocumented immigrants file tax returns and thus pay into the Social Security trust fund, even though they may never be able to access it themselves because they are legally unable to do so. As a counterpoint, the article then included the views of CIS' Steven Camarota:

    But Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports limits on immigration, said that America's immigrants are not young or fecund enough to shore up the system.

    "If the immigrants all came at 20 and had seven or eight kids, you would see more of a difference," he said. The average immigrant arrives at age 30, and immigrant women have, on average, 2.1 children, according to the Pew Research Center.

    Camarota added that immigrants tend to be poorer than native-born Americans and are therefore more reliant on a wide range of public services. "If you bring in a lot of immigrants who are paying into Social Security but then need all these other social programs -- well, then you're not helping the situation."

    Analysts on both sides agree that increasing the number of highly skilled immigrants would shore up the system more than the Social Security Administration report accounts for, since high-skilled immigrants pay more taxes and spend more than low-skilled ones.

    However, in a study released in February, the Cato Institute found that immigrants are less likely than native-born Americans to use public services:

    [L]ow-income non-citizen immigrants, including adults and children, are generally less likely to receive public benefits than those who are native-born. Moreover, when non-citizen immigrants receive benefits, the value of benefits they receive is usually lower than the value of benefits received by those born in the United States. The combination of lower average utilization and smaller average benefits indicates that the overall cost of public benefits is substantially less for low-income non-citizen immigrants than for comparable native-born adults and children.

    Cato also noted that while immigrants' earnings tend to be lower than Americans' when beginning their careers, that changes over time as they invest more in education and training: "[W]hile immigrants begin with lower earnings, their incomes improve as they remain in the United States for longer periods. As immigrants remain longer in the United States, their English proficiency and other job skills improve, which heightens their earning potential."