In 2010, CIS’s Mark Krikorian wrote in the National Review that the only iteration of the DREAM Act he could support would come at the cost of much lower authorized immigration levels. After DACA's rescission, CIS, FAIR, and NumbersUSA spent millions of dollars torpedoing bipartisan DACA legislation through lobbying efforts, paid media and so-called "chain-migration" propaganda.
What is CIS and what do they do?
- CIS was founded as a project of FAIR in 1985 to provide legitimacy and lend academic authority to their policy proposals. Its role, as stated by Tanton, was to be “a small think tank [that would] wage the war of ideas” of its parent organization.
- The group traffics in misinformation and blatant anti-immigrant animus. Over the years, CIS staffers have presented unverifiable anecdotes as established fact, seriously manipulated data to generate misleading evidence in support of their policies, appeared on anti-Semitic radio shows, blamed immigrants for teenage obesity, and expressed the desire to lynch then-President Barack Obama. Additionally, CIS events have been a safe space for known white nationalists.
- In May 2017, an analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for New Community revealed CIS had circulated white nationalist content more than 2,000 times in the last decade.
- The Mark Krikorian led group created the doctrine of “self-deportation,” which argues that laws should be enacted to make life so difficult for immigrants that they are forced to return to their countries of origin. CIS has been so successful in promoting this doctrine that it has appeared in the policy platforms of Senators and GOP presidential candidates. Policies to encourage self-deportation have been found to be unconstitutional and to violate individuals’ civil rights.
- CIS staff members frequently make harshly anti-immigrant and racist statements:
- CIS Fellow Dan Cadman called for an expansion of expedited removal to deport “around 11 or 12 million aliens residing and working illegally in the United States.”
- CIS executive director Mark Krikorian once advocated for religious tests for new immigrants: “Of course people could, and would, lie, but the very fact that such a question is asked would send a message about what we expect of people hoping to live among us.”
- Krikorian, who frequently makes disparaging statements about immigrants and communities of color, once said that Mexico’s “weakness and backwardness has been deeply harmful to the United States.”
- Stephen Steinlight, a Senior Policy Analyst at CIS, stated publicly that he believed former President Obama should be “hung, drawn, and quartered.” Steinlight still works for CIS and is a frequent spokesperson for the organization.
- Beginning in January 2016, CIS began publishing reports and blogs authored by discredited policy analyst Jason Richwine. In 2013, Richwine resigned from The Heritage Foundation following revelations that his Harvard dissertation included racist appeals to limit immigration based on IQ.
How has CIS Attacked DACA?
- In a major policy paper published in April 2016 entitled A Pen and a Phone: 79 Immigration Actions the Next President Can Take, CIS calls for the next President to allow the courts to rule on the constitutionality of DACA with the goal of ending the program once and for all. The group also proposes using DACA application data for enforcement actions. In a ‘Giving Tuesday’ blog post, Krikorian confirmed that the Trump Administration’s harsh immigration principles were developed with the help of this very report.
- As early as 2010, before DACA, CIS was public in its demands to trade legal status for Dreamers in exchange for harsh attrition through enforcement measures and slashes to legal immigration. Since DACA’s recission CIS has worked to derail all bipartisan efforts to provide legal protections for Dreamers. The group has even sued USCIS for DACA application data; which the U.S government committed to keeping separate from enforcement activities.
- On August 5th, Univision reported that Krikorian helped Senators Cotton and Perdue draft the RAISE Act, a bill to slash immigration numbers by half.
- On September 27, 2017, CIS published a new report entitled Immigration Multipliers: Trends in Chain Migration. The report was authored by CIS’s Director of Policy Studies, Jessica Vaughan. In a statement, Vaughan used the report to smear the DACA program and engage in fear mongering about population growth, suggesting that twice as many relatives would receive green cards within 20 years.
- On October 3rd, 2017, CIS’s Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on DACA in which she continued to advocate for severely restrictionist policies in exchange for a legislative solution for immigrant youth.
- On December 4, 2017 CIS hosted a panel discussion on the report. The event took place at the National Press Club. Panel participants included Vaughan, as well as RAISE Act co-sponsor Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).