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It's Deja Vu All Over Again: Another Immigration Hearing, Another CIS Witness

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You might remember E-Verify. It’s House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith’s pet project to singlehandedly boost the American economy by expanding regulation and costing hundreds of thousands of legal American workers their jobs.  The bill stalled after it passed the House Judiciary Committee last fall, and it’s no more politically viable or better an idea now than it was then.  But evidently, Smith is desperate for attention, and out of new ways to attack undocumented immigrants.  So today, he’s holding yet another pointless hearing on E-Verify along with his buddy Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Chari of the House Immigration Subcommittee.

Getting deja vu yet? Just wait: one of the groups scheduled to give testimony at the hearing is none other than the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).  CIS has been been on the witness list not once, not twice, but ten times since Smith and his pals Gallegly and Steve King (R-IA) took control of immigration in the House in 2011. That means that if you walked into any of the 22 hearings the Immigration Subcommittee’s called, you’d have almost even odds of seeing someone from CIS on the stand.

This might be understandable if CIS were a legitimate organization of policy experts, instead of an anti-immigrant “think tank” founded by father of the modern anti-immigrant lobby and white nationalist John Tanton.  CIS was birthed as an extension of the Federation for American Immigration Reform—an organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.   These days, CIS is led by Mark Krikorian—a restrictionist who, among other things, once wrote that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s name was too difficult to pronounce and that Haiti’s problems stemmed from it not being “colonized long enough.”

Here’s some of the “expert” testimony Lamar Smith has called on CIS to provide: why immigrant women in detention don’t deserve better access to health care and counseling services, why every immigrant who finds a job during a recession is stealing from the livelihood of the native-born, and why the very existence of immigrants in America is bad for minorities.  It’s a remarkable breadth of “expertise” from an organization with a mere baker’s dozen employees–indeed, with today’s hearing, Smith’s called the same CIS witness to the stand four times running.  

In fact, CIS’ vast “expertise” could easily be lent to other committees beyond Judiciary. They could tell the Subcommittee on Children and Families why immigrants are responsible for the childhood obesity epidemic. They could tell the Homeland Security Committee all about their report on “terror babies,” which was so important that they couldn’t even reveal who the author was.  Or they could tell the Energy and Commerce Committee that they can stop worrying about SUVs and fracking, because immigrants are the real cause of climate change.

Of course, the only thing CIS staff are really “experts” on is immigrant-bashing – but, luckily for them, that’s the only thing Smith and company really want to hold hearings on anyway.