Sheriff cancels meeting with think tank with hate group ties

Monday, November 16, 2009 at 12:15pm

(1:42 p.m. — Updated with comments from Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian)

Sheriff Daron Hall was scheduled this week to make an appearance in Washington, D.C., on a panel discussion hosted by a think tank with alleged hate group ties and founded by a prominent backer of the English Only provision, but he has cancelled the trip after local immigration activists brought the group's history to his attention.

Hall was set to appear Thursday at an event hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), a non-partisan group with a long history of association with the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an anti-immigration organization that has been placed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups.

CIS recently completed a study on 287(g) and invited Hall to participate in a forum held at the National Press Club entitled “Immigration and Crime: New Studies Examine Crime among Immigrants, Local Enforcement Efforts.”

But last Friday local immigration activists voiced their concerns to the sheriff about the group's connection with FAIR, according to sheriff’s department spokeswoman Karla Weikal.

“Some of the advocates locally came to the sheriff and expressed some concerns about maybe some of the affiliations this center may have,” Weikal told The City Paper. The office was not aware of the affiliations previously, Weikal said.

According to the 2009 Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) report on CIS, the group was started in 1985 by former ophthalmologist and FAIR founded John Tanton, a figure at the center of many national immigration-related controversies. Most recently, Tanton's group ProEnglish was responsible for the majority of the financial backing behind Metro Councilman Eric Crafton's English Only proposal.

“CIS' creation was part of a carefully thought-out strategy aimed at creating a set of complementary institutions to cultivate the nativist cause — groups including the Federation for American Immigration Refrom (FAIR) and NumbersUSA,” the report reads.

CIS' Executive Director Mark Krikorian told The City Paper the SPLC has exaggerated Tanton's ties to his group. Tanton helped arrange the first grant for the think tank and CIS operated under FAIR's tax status for a few months after first opening, Krikorian said.

The exaggeration of Tanton's “tenuous and minor” connection to CIS is part of “a broader, concerted effort to delegitimize any skeptic of amnesty or increased immigration,” he said.

“They (SPLC) don't have the balls to describe us as a hate group, they have to do this McCarthyite kind of guilt by association thing,” he said. “Their function is to provide information for this campaign of vilification.”

CIS has been contracted by the U.S. Census Bureau for a study assessing the quality of immigration data and with the Justice Department on how immigration law can be used to combat gangs, Krikorian noted. He said the group is disappointed Hall will not make Thursday's appearance.

“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,” Krikorian said. “It's the advocacy groups that are essentially lying to him that are at fault here.”

Hall decided to cancel his appearance because he did not wish to add further strain to the local debate on the controversial 287(g) program.

“[The sheriff] right now is in a mode of building bridges, and he just said if that's going to cause discord among the people [he's] trying to building bridges with, it's certainly something he doesn't want to participate in,” Weikal said.

Hall came under fire a year ago when he spoke at a dinner hosted by the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalists group also listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups.

19 Comments on this post:

By: pandabear on 11/16/09 at 11:51

Good grief.
What a cluster of assumptions and hearsay,
including the report writer.

Everyone in the nation is concerned about immigration policies.

Hate groups, hate regions, hate nation.

"Labels anyone....10 for a dollar"

What a joke.

By: kryoung on 11/16/09 at 12:05

All it takes is a visit to the CIS website to realize what a bunch of one-sided writing the City Paper has now engaged in...along the same vein as the Tennessean. The ridiculousness of this article should be a slap in the face of any journalist believes reports should be fair and balnce. I agree...what a joke.

By: kyledeb on 11/16/09 at 4:02

It's good to see the Sheriff refusing to fan the flames of extremism in the migration debate. It's funny how, despite the fact that a white supremacist founded CIS, no one at CIS is willing to dissociate themselves from John Tanton's views. Rather than answer the criticisms about John Tanton, all the folks at CIS can do is go on about extremism.

By: kyledeb on 11/16/09 at 4:02

I mean to finish that:

"all CIS can do is go on about a smear campaign"

By: sidneyames on 11/17/09 at 7:27

Who cares? After all, the majority of Americans voted for a President who attended a Black Theologian Church that preached hate against whites for 20 years. And the man, O'bama, said he never heard it preached. Yeah, just like he "AIN'T" read the health care bill.

And since O'bama sits at the table with all our enemies (iran, china, etc) why not sit at the table with "hearsay enemies" just to see what they have to say?

I'm just too naive. (did I spell that right?)

By: JeffF on 11/17/09 at 8:45

"It's good to see the Sheriff refusing to fan the flames of extremism in the migration debate"

I fail to see how placating the other end's version of extremism is a good thing. I am sure you meant "..refusing to fan the flames of the extremism I do not believe in the immigration debate."

By: stlgtr55@yahoo.com on 11/17/09 at 11:17

I think we've gone crazy with this Political Correctness. Is it hate speech to say that English is our #1 language, and that immigrants should make every effort to learn to speak English?

By: sidneyames on 11/17/09 at 11:22

stlgtr55@yahoo.com on 11/17/09 at 11:17 You are so correct. The highly over-sensitive, politically correct anal retentive crowd thinks that it's hate speech.

Normal, every day honest hard working Americans (imported or born here) think it is just good common sense to not have to punch #1 for English in an English speaking country.

By: kennyj on 11/17/09 at 12:48

"CIS has been contracted by the U.S. Census Bureau for a study assessing the quality of immigration data". What a waste that the Sheriff is willing to forgo a briefing on data which may be useful, and the activists are stupid for pressuring him to do so.
I'm going to be very un-PC, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the NAACP are both racist organizations & I'm really sick of their constant whining. There is no justification for illegal immigration, and I am of the opinion that unless one of the parents of a child is a US Citizen, then that child should not become a citizen by virtue of being born here.
My brother owns a bar & restaurant in Puerto Penasco, Mexico (should be a tilde over the n). The Mexican government hasn't printed official documents in English to accomodate non-Spanish speakers, unlike the billions of $ the US wastes to do so.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sounds like a group akin to ACLU. No reason I should pay them attention either.
Poor news reporting City Paper, this type of reporting is what is making "professional" journalism a joke and dragging the newspapers into oblivion. I'll not bother to read anything by Kyle Swenson in the future.

By: JeffF on 11/17/09 at 12:56

I have decided that for now on I will label every person or organization that disagrees with me as a "Hate Group". This will be done via press release and a public show in front of television cameras. All costs associated with these actions will be paid by government grant or fund raising from the people wanting to stay in my good graces. Failure to respond to my fund raising request may cause you to receive the label of "suspected hate group" or "organization/person with ties to a known hate group".

By: sidneyames on 11/17/09 at 3:07

Jeff, you are so funny! I want to join your group so when people ignore me, I can claim they hate me and I can get free funding!

By: JeffF on 11/17/09 at 3:09

Welcome aboard. Do you bring members of the press or "clergy" along with you? That would help the cause tremendously.

By: JeffF on 11/17/09 at 3:12

I would like to take this opportunity to officially declare my spouse as a possible Hate Group. She is constantly disagreeing with me and refuses to provide funds for whatever crusade I am on at the time.

By: JeffF on 11/17/09 at 3:18

I would like to declare the IRS a Hate Group for obvious reasons.

I would also like to add that McNeely Piggott & Fox are associates of known hate groups. They have worked for and received large sums of money from multiple groups in which I disagree with and have not provided any funds to my organization in which to fight back the evil their clients inflict. This condemnation includes any group that falls under their umbrella (Cooley Public Strategies, the Fighting Hacks Coed Softball Team, etc.).

By: JeffF on 11/17/09 at 4:25

I forgot to add the Metro's Mayors Office to the list of MP&F umbrella organizations. Mea culpa.

By: alexs9 on 11/17/09 at 7:18

I am glad Sheriff Hall decided not to attend this panel discussion. I understand why he doesn't want to associate himself with hate groups.

By: Donna Locke on 11/18/09 at 5:09

Please read my comments under this post on the Post Politics blog:

http://politics.nashvillepost.com/2009/11/16/again/

By: Donna Locke on 11/18/09 at 10:07

Replacement for Sheriff Daron Hall on the Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on immigration and crime:

Gary McLhinney, former Baltimore police officer, former president of the police union, appointed by ex-Gov Ehrlich to be chief of the Md. Transportation Authority for 4 yrs.

http://cis.org/Announcements/ImmigrationAndCrimePanel

By: CheriReese31 on 8/22/11 at 1:07

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