The anti-immigration group Oregonians for Immigration Reform has again courted racial controversy, by bringing to Oregon a guest speaker from a think tank labeled as a hate group.

Today, protesters in Salem greeted Jessica Vaughan, a guest speaker from Washington, D.C.-based group the Center for Immigration Studies. Portland newspaper Street Roots covered Vaughan's visit today.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the Center for Immigration Studies as a hate group—describing it earlier this year as "a nativist think tank that churns out a constant stream of fear-mongering misinformation about Latino immigrants."

That's not the sort of description likely to trouble Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

The Salem-based OFIR is among the state's most provocative and successful right-wing organizations. It is currently backing ballot measures to make Oregon an English-only state and require employers use software to confirm their workers are citizens.

An Oregonians for Immigration Reform meeting in 2014. (James Rexroad)
An Oregonians for Immigration Reform meeting in 2014. (James Rexroad)

In 2014, OFIR led a ballot-measure campaign to reverse the state's decision to give four-year driver's cards to people who couldn't prove they were in the United States legally. Voters approved the measure—and rejected the driver's cards—by a nearly two-to-one margin. That campaign was in several respects a bellwether for the nationalist rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

During the campaign, WW published a cover profile of the group's leader, Cynthia Kendoll. She described illegal immigration from Mexico as "just an organized assault on our culture."