The Nashville City Paper reports that Sheriff Daron Hall of Davidson County, Tennessee has pulled out of an event hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Local immigration activists brought the group’s nativist history to his attention and Hall canceled his meeting with CIS so as not to “cause discord among the people [he’s] trying to building bridges with.”
Hall was set to appear Thursday at a CIS event dedicated to perpetuating the myth that “immigrants have relatively high rates of criminality.” It’s unclear what position Hall was going to take at the event, but there certainly won’t be any dissenting opinions in his absence. The panel now solely consists of CIS staff: Director of Research Steven Camarota, Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan, and Executive Director Mark Krikorian. When questioned about Hall’s cancellation, Krikorian remarked that CIS’ nativist ties have been exaggerated as part of a “broader, concerted effort to delegitimize any skeptic of amnesty or increased immigration”:
“They don’t have the balls to describe us as a hate group, they have to do this McCarthyite kind of guilt by association thing…Their function is to provide information for this campaign of vilification…The sheriff can do whatever he needs to do, we’re going to be disappointed he’s not here but that’s his call to make. It’s the advocacy groups that are essentially lying to him that are at fault here.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes CIS as a “think tank [which] bills itself as an ‘independent’ organization,” despite the fact that it “has never found any aspect of immigration that it liked.” SPLC explains that “the organized anti-immigration ‘movement,’ increasingly in bed with racist hate groups, is dominated by one man, John Tanton.” CIS, along with its unofficial sister organizations, NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a designated hate group, were all founded by Tanton — the “nativist impresario.”
Hall faced “a firestorm of criticism” when he headlined a white supremacist event sponsored by the Middle Tennessee chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC).