One of the most prominent groups advocating for stricter immigration went to court Wednesday to demand a judge order the Southern Poverty Law Center to stop labeling it a “hate group,” accusing the self-described watchdog of running an illegal racket to silence political opponents. The Center for Immigration Studies says the SPLC’s accusations that it is racist and anti-immigrant are wrong and have cost the nonprofit support and financial backing by scaring people away from doing business with the center. The center brought its challenge to U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by filing a civil complaint under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act against SPLC President Richard Cohen and Heidi Beirich, who runs the group’s Hatewatch blog. Mark Krikorian, the Center for Immigration Studies executive director, says his organization doesn’t meet the SPLC’s definition of a hate group and the Alabama-based watchdog knows it but persists anyway — which he said was evidence of the racket. “SPLC and its leaders have every right to oppose our work on immigration, but they do not have the right to label us a hate group and suggest we are racists,” he said. “The Center for Immigration Studies is fighting back against the SPLC smear campaign and its attempt to stifle debate through intimidation and name-calling.” The Center for Immigration Studies is not the only group to protest the SPLC’s profligate use of the hate tag, but it appears to be the first to mount a challenge under RICO, a law that is usually associated with the FBI’s anti-mob efforts. The center says the SPLC defines hate groups as organizations whose official statements or activities “attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” Mr. Krikorian said that doesn’t define his group, whose motto is “pro immigrant, low immigration.” In practice, he said, that means the center makes the case for “fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted.” The center says it doesn’t think its work amounts to attacks on people but rather attempts to raise policy questions. Beyond that, Mr. Krikorian said, the Supreme Court has held that being an immigrant is not an immutable characteristic, so maligning migrants wouldn’t qualify as hate anyway. The center’s work is widely cited in the press, including in The Washington Times. It issues awards for press coverage of immigration, including, in the past, to The Times. Its analysts are regularly called to testify before Congress and have been invited to meet with top security officials in the Obama and Trump administrations. The center’s work also is used by independent fact-checkers such as PolitiFact.com, which in 2017 fact-checked the SPLC’s hate designation. PolitiFact concluded that most of the evidence was guilt by association. Under the Trump administration, the center’s profile has grown. Some former staffers have been hired for government jobs, and analysts have conducted interviews with top Homeland Security Department officials in events broadcast on C-SPAN.
The SPLC is an extreme-liberal, agenda-driven, hypocritical, and thoroughly discredited organization. It’s the go-to “expert” group for PBS/NPR, MSNBC, CNN and other liberal media outlets when they want to discuss “hate groups” and such. They’ll go after neo-Nazi groups and other such white supremacist groups…and rightfully so. BUT, they won’t even label the New Black Panthers as a “hate group.” Yeah.. wrap your brain around that one. Kudos to the Center for Immigration Studies for going after SLPC in court. It’s about time someone did. Excellent!!