Oregon Anti-Immigration Crusaders Bring in Speaker From Think Tank That’s Been Called a Hate Group

Street Roots reports on the visit from Washington, D.C.'s nationalist Center for Immigration Studies

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.

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."