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On March 6, Republican members of the House brought Andrew Arthur to testify against the need to expand protections for DACA and TPS recipients. They brought Arthur regardless of the fact that he was testifying on behalf of a hate group and held extreme anti-immigrant views.
Arthur works for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) classifies as an anti-immigrant hate group. CIS has been a key leader in the effort to deny much-needed protections for Dreamers and TPS holders. Arthur had previously argued that the Trump Administration’s family separation policy was “absolutely crucial” and that “there really is no other choice” than to tear thousands of children from their families at U.S./Mexico border. Yet Republicans are clearly undisturbed by Arthur’s extreme views; last week was the sixth time Republicans have invited Arthur to give Congressional testimony.
The SPLC has thoroughly accounted for CIS’s hate group distinction, including how the white nationalist John Tanton played a central role in the founding of the organization. John Tanton, originally a Michigan ophthalmologist, began to build a network of anti-immigrant organizations in the 1970s. His racist ideas have been a matter of the public record since the 1980s. His early financial backers, like the Pioneer Fund, believed in eugenics and white racial superiority. And two of Tanton’s friends are prominent white nationalists Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow, who run the white nationalist websites American Renaissance and VDARE, respectively. (Peter Brimelow now has connections to this White House.)
SPLC also found that over the last ten years CIS has circulated white nationalist material over 2,000 times. CIS executive director Mark Krikorian, recently attempted to defend the group’s circulation of content from the white nationalist website VDare by calling it an “important source of immigration news” and comparing it to the New York Times. VDare is neither.
The Republican members are at best, willfully ignorant of who they invite to testify. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-04), however, took the opportunity to unmask CIS’s connections to white nationalists.
See the exchange here, especially Arthur’s cagey description of CIS’ white nationalist distribution machine as “a clipping service of immigration articles”.
AMAZING from @RepHankJohnson last week at the Dream/TPS hearing, taking down CIS extremist Andrew Arthur. Thank you Rep. Johnson!
"These views [that you hold] do not represent the mainstream of America." pic.twitter.com/BrrZuwGVmj
— America's Voice (@AmericasVoice) March 14, 2019
From 2006 to 2011, before working for CIS, Arthur was an immigration judge where his record revealed his long-standing harsh views towards immigrants. He decided 165 asylum claims and only granted 15, a 90.9 percent denial rate. During that same time, the national denial rate was 53.2 percent. And of the 256 immigration judges nationwide, only seven others denied more asylum seekers than Arthur.
Moreover, Arthur’s testimony last week was littered with basic errors and inaccuracies that members of Congress had to repeatedly correct for the record. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY-10) had to correct Arthur about the fact that all DACA recipients must have been in the U.S. by 2007 to qualify, not 2012 as he incorrectly claimed. Additionally, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-10) cited a report to debunk Arthur’s false claim that DACA increased unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. These were facts that a former immigration judge, especially one called on to testify, should have known.
Unfortunately, the apparent coziness between Republicans and anti-immigrant hate groups is not isolated to Arthur. The Trump Administration is full of people who use to work for organizations in Tanton’s anti-immigrant network or who are happy to rub shoulders with their current staff.
The weekend prior to Arthur’s visit to Congress, Donald Trump cited a debunked study from another of Tanton’s organizations at his keynote address to CPAC. Last year, Trump nominated Ronald Mortensen for Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, which oversees the U.S. response to refugees. Mortensen was also a fellow at CIS. Though the nomination has stalled, Trump will likely reinvigorate the push soon, possibly adding one more former hate group member to the Administration’s staff.
Overall, Rep. Johnson said it best about the insulting decision to invite a lie-spewing hate group member to testify at hearing about longtime U.S. immigrants: “I would caution my colleagues on the other side to do a little bit more vetting…because these views [that you hold] do not represent the mainstream of America.”