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Smearing the Center for Immigration Studies

John Fonte

It has become clear that some conservative supporters of comprehensive immigration reform have mounted a smear campaign against Mark Krikorian and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), of which he is the executive director, and against other opponents as well. I will talk only about the people I know best, who (it turns out) happen to be on opposite sides of the immigration issue. In a long diatribe by Mario H. Lopez in the Human Life Review, Mark and CIS are accused of being advocates of population control, abortion, sterilization, eugenics, and followers of an 87-year-old retired Michigan eye-doctor named John Tanton who promoted zero population growth.   

On the Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru makes short work of Lopez’s article, stating that it presented “zero evidence” that CIS was engaged in a “radical anti-life agenda.” Ramesh writes: “These attacks are unimpressive, and the people making them including, I’m sad to say, the editors of Human Life Review  should be embarrassed.”

Mark Krikorian, a frequent contributor to NR and NRO is well known to readers of the Corner. For those of you who don’t know, Mark is a serious Christian, a father of three, a regular communicant of the Armenian Orthodox Church, and pro-life to the core. He is also a believer in natural law, a theoretical position reinforced from his days in a classroom taught by esteemed professor of political philosophy Hadley Arkes.

Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at CIS, testified as an expert witness at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration last Wednesday. Jessica is a former U.S. Foreign Service officer; she holds a masters degree from Georgetown; headed a Justice Department study on transnational gang suppression; and has conducted seminars for senior law-enforcement officials at Northwestern University.

She is also the mother of four, a devout Roman Catholic, and a strong right-to-life supporter. Those who attended the Senate hearing might have noticed a black cross of ashes on her forehead that Ash Wednesday. In other words, CIS’s policy director is not exactly a devotee of John Tanton’s population-control ideas.


    


By the time I reached the sixth page of Lopez’s tedious attack piece, I came across another familiar name. According to the text, one James R. Edwards Jr. “wrote numerous papers published by CIS” and “joined CIS as a fellow in 2009.” Yes, that would be my friend Jim Edwards, a former colleague at the Hudson Institute, a conservative activist, an Evangelical Christian, a strong pro-life adherent, and a close associate of the grand dame of the pro-life, and, indeed, the American conservative movement, Phyllis Schlafly (who in case you don’t know, is a practicing Roman Catholic). I might add that CIS’s research director, Steve Camarota, is the father of three and attends regular Sunday mass at a local Catholic Church. To wit, there does not seem to be a lot of “population stabilization” going on at CIS.

One wonders if Lopez knows any of this.

According to the Washington Post, Lopez has been spreading his slanders at various GOP meetings around the Capitol. Unfortunately, he is being assisted by other supporters of “comprehensive immigration reform.” It troubles me to report that some friends of mine are apparently part of this smear campaign. These are people I have worked with and admired in the past, including Alfonso Aguilar, Linda Chavez, and Jeff Bell. These slanders against pro-life adherents must cease.

We are entering a period in the coming months in which there will be honest disagreements among conservatives on different immigration proposals (there are clear differences, for example, between Senators Rubio and Cruz, for the moment at least). This intra-conservative (and intra-Republican) debate should be conducted on the basis of facts and reasoned policy arguments about what is best for the United States of America and how we maintain and perpetuate (and when necessary restore) the constitutional republic bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers. Yesterday, on his radio show Bill Bennett said that there is no place for these smear tactics in the intra-conservative discussion on immigration policy. Bennett is right, there is absolutely no place in this debate for the type of baseless accusations and guilt-by-association tactics that have been used against good people at the Center for Immigration Studies.    

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