Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer urged U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna on Tuesday to cancel his appearance as a featured speaker at a supposed “anti-immigrant hate group.”
Cissna was invited to speak at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Immigration Newsmaker event Wednesday, which focused on giving government officials and policy makers a space to share the challenges they face with the public.
“I write with dismay upon learning of your having accepted an invitation to speak to an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has cited as an “anti-immigrant hate group,” Hoyer wrote Tuesday evening.
He claimed that CIS had a lengthy history of producing white-nationalistic and anti-Semitic reports in addition to releasing false reports about immigrants and crime, though no specifics were given.
Hoyer also claimed the organization was founded by Federation for American Immigration Reform founder John Tanton. CIS told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the information was false.
Hoyer said having a senior government official present in a CIS event would legitimize the organization’s work, citing the critiques then-Acting Director Thomas Homan of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received after he spoke at a CIS event in June.
“The maligning of immigrants – particularly immigrants of color – diminishes our country,” Hoyer wrote.
Cissna’s conversation, however, focused on enforcing lawful immigration policies and touched upon topics like merit-based immigration, chain migration and immigration program abuses.
“For whatever reason, our authority on enforcement has not been fully exercised in the past. Well, now it well be…Everything we at the agency should be guided by the law, not any other thing. That’s our Bible,” Cissna said at the event, CIS tweeted.
CIS executive director Mark Krikorian also slammed the letter on Twitter. (RELATED: Center For Immigration Studies Calls Out WaPo For Not Correcting Article After A Week)
“The fact that an otherwise respectable congressman like Hoyer would retail the sordid lies of an unprincipled outfit like the SPLC shows how radical the Democratic caucus in Congress has become on immigration,” Krikorian tweeted Tuesday.
Research fellow Jeremy Karl at Stanford’s Hoover Institute said in a tweet that Hoyer’s “attempt to marginalize groups like CIS” from public conversation was “a dangerous new low” for the Democratic party’s “immigration rhetoric.”
The event took place at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. and was also livestreamed on Facebook, according to the event page.
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