Edit: Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies testified today as well. That makes THREE CIS-related witnesses, and two other Tanton-network witnesses, for a total of five.
Today’s Senate Judiciary committee hearing on immigration and the bill released last week will be a jam-packed event, featuring four panels filled with business owners, former elected officials, and longtime immigration reform advocates such as DREAMer Gaby Pacheco, Arturo Rodriguez of United Farm Workers, and Janet Murguia of NCLR. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #SJC or watch the hearing via the Senate Judiciary Committee’s live stream or on C-SPAN.
Courtesy of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA, who will really be earning his place in Jeff Sessions’ Gang of Hate considering who he’s inviting to today’s hearing), there will be not one, not two, not three, but four John Tanton-network witnesses testifying at the hearing about the perils of immigration and why we should close our borders completely. John Tanton is well-known as the father of the modern anti-immigrant movement, a white supremacist and population control activist who started the three groups most active in today’s immigration reform opposition: the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and NumbersUSA.
Testifying today on behalf of that Know-Nothing movement will be Mark Krikorian, the executive director of CIS; Janice Kephart, a National Security fellow for CIS; late addition Kris Kobach, former counsel for FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute; and Chris Crane, president of the ICE union and Kobach’s plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Obama’s deferred action for DREAMers (DACA) program. They’re all the usual suspects—the anti-immigrant crowd doesn’t seem to be able to find witnesses to make their case who aren’t affiliated with the Tanton network.
Here’s what you need to know about them:
Mark Krikorian routinely blames immigrants for everything from global warming to the Wall Street crash to voter fraud. He famously mocked the pronunciation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s name, and once said that the reason why Haiti is “so screwed up” is because it wasn’t “colonized long enough.” Pro-imperialism much? During the 2012 election, when Mitt Romney started talking about “self-deportation”—an extremist position that would eventually pave the way to his eventual shellacking in November, thanks to his failure to win more than a quarter of the Latino vote—smarter Republicans like John McCain, Jeb Bush, and Susana Martinez slammed the idea. But Mark Krikorian triumphantly lifted up Romney’s espousal of self-deportation, claiming credit for the idea under the name it used to be known by, “attrition through enforcement”. If the GOP wanted to thank the two people most responsible for helping it drive over the demographic cliff last year, one of them would be Krikorian.
The other would be Kris Kobach, Mitt Romney’s immigration advisor and the man who encouraged Romney to support self-deportation. Kobach is responsible for writing and pushing anti-immigrant state laws such as Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56, which are based on the concept of self-deportation. The theory behind them: make immigrants so miserable that they have to leave, whether that involves forcing schools to check on their kids’ immigration status or denying immigrants access to the police and the courts. After leading Romney to his overwhelming defeat last November, Kobach has seemingly lapsed from the immigration scene, appearing to focus his time on his other pet project, voter IDs. But his testimony today—if he accepts Grassley’s late invitation to speak–will bring him back to the national stage.
Working with Kobach these days is Chris Crane, the president of the ICE union who has spent the last few months complaining that President Obama’s prosecutorial discretion policies don’t let his agents do their jobs. The main target of his complaint, Obama’s deferred action (DACA) program, has now recognized almost 200,000 DREAMers, who are now allowed to work, drive (in most states), and live without the fear of deportation. But Crane claims that not deporting these young, non-priority immigrants who want to contribute to our country is a threat to border security. A ruling on Crane and Kobach’s lawsuit against the Obama administration is expected soon.
Speaking of border security, there’s Janice Kephart, who recently claimed to Fox News that the border has seen a “500 percent surge in the amount of activity from August to December of last year.” Where did Kephart and CIS get those numbers from? In 2012, Border Patrol counted 29,296 more apprehensions than it made in 2011, which is an 8.9% increase—not a 500% surge. Turns out that Kephart was using numbers from a blog post in which CIS assistant director John Wahala wrote about “a group of ranchers who manage game lands about 70 miles from the border” telling CIS that they have seen a 500% increase in border traffic. That sounds scientific—and it’s no doubt the kind of claim that Kephart will be trying to push again at today’s Senate Judiciary hearing.
Watch the live-stream of the hearing today here, or follow the conversation on Twitter.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog said that Ron Hira “does not work with CIS but once wrote a paper with Krikorian and frequent-speaker Jessica Vaughan”. In fact, Hira did not write a paper with them, but appeared on a CIS-sponsored panel with the two in 2007. Dr. Hira is a research associate for a progressive think tank, the Economic Policy Institute, an organization that favors immigration reform. We are sorry for this mistake and apologize for any confusion.