Inside The Center For Immigration Studies, The Immigration False-Fact Think Tank - 2014-05-15
To say the right-wing media pounced on this week's announcement by the Center for Immigration Studies—a D.C.-based, questionably nonpartisan nonprofit research organization—announcing that the Obama administration released 36,007 undocumented criminals last year would be an overstatement. It was more of a leisurely grab, as the report was released on Monday. Nonetheless, by midweek, a slew of fear-inducing headlines had sprouted up, of the kind sure to clutter Facebook newsfeeds this weekend.
Yet as one Newsbusters' headline put it, the report has been virtually ignored by the "networks" or so-called mainstream media outlets. The numbers certainly sound shocking, if not attention-grabbing at the very least. So what gives? These numbers portend to illuminate society-threatening failures within the current immigration enforcement system. But the CIS report and the coverage surrounding it actually offer as much, if not more insight into how the national conversation surrounding immigration reform is manipulated by the interests of those covering it.
Before taking a closer look at the disturbing data being passed around, it would be in everyone's best interest to consider its source. The Center for Immigration Studies refers to itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan, independent research organization, boasting the puzzling tagline "Low Immigration, Pro Immigrant." One of CIS's founders, John Tanton, a retired ophthamologist from Michigan and known anti-immgration activist, was also behind Numbers USA, an immigration reduction organization that, according to The New York Times, helped kill President George W. Bush's attempt at comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Another one of Tanton's groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, helped draft Arizona's controversial SB-1070, permitting police to detain illegal immigrants. Numbers USA, FAIR, and CIS were all part of the effort that successfully defeated the DREAM Act in the Senate in 2010.