Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Anti-immigrant groups try to crush the DREAM Act

Cloee Cooper • Dec 02, 2010

Despite the intense efforts of undocumented students and supporters to pass the DREAM Act, anti-immigrant groups continue to drive an aggressive agenda to defeat the bill. Rather than representing a popular voice of opposition to the bill, these groups are instead part of an orchestrated effort spearheaded by John Tanton organizations such as FAIR, Center for Immigration Studies, and NumbersUSA.

Last week, an LA Times article titled “He’s a Cal State Fresno student body president – and an illegal immigrant,” quoted Steven Camarota of anti-immigrant group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

Camarota has contributed to efforts to criminalize immigrants by holding panels and releasing false research purporting to show that immigrants commit more crimes than other groups. Camarota told Time magazine in 2008, “even if immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, their children and grandchildren may be more likely to end up on the wrong side of the law.”

In 2009, Center for Immigration Studies distributed over fifty articles to its members and supporters from the website VDARE. VDARE is a white nationalist website that is named after Virginia Dare, allegedly the first white child born in North America. The love goes both ways; Steven Camarota’s “research” is often relied upon by the website’s contributors.

On November 30 Julia Preston from the New York Times ran an article quoting Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, who expressed his opposition to the DREAM Act. Unfortunately, the article failed to inform readers about the group’s troublesome ties to John Tanton. The group serves as the grassroots mobilizing arm of the Tanton Network. Back in March 2010, a NumbersUSA campaign was promoted by white nationalist David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan. Roy Beck has even spoken to a white supremacist organization, the Council of Conservative Citizens in the past.

As the Village Voice noted in a December 1 article,

“FAIR and its sister nonprofits—NumbersUSA, which also lobbied successfully to squash immigration reform in 2007, and the Center for Immigration Studies, which refers to itself as a non-partisan pro-immigrant think tank—cite each other’s reports and studies and post each other’s findings on their Web sites.

Reporters often quote experts from the three groups as credible mainstream voices of dissent to progressive immigration reform, even though several human rights organizations have flagged FAIR, NumbersUSA, and CIS as white-nationalist hate groups.

Though these three groups maintain that the hate designations are arbitrary and untrue, the vitriolic rhetoric at the root of these organizations’ sensibilities scalds the ear.”

The mainstreaming of hate has real consequences. The DREAM Act, a relatively moderate piece of legislation that will benefit millions of families, hundreds of educational institutions, and the American economy, is under siege. And the anti-immigrant movement maintains a stranglehold on honest debate around immigration.

It’s imperative that honesty be restored to national conversations around immigration. Future generations depend on it.

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