Center for Immigration Studies Sues SPLC for ‘Hate Group’ Label

‘ SPLC attacks us simply because it disagrees with these policy views…’

Center for Immigration Studies Sues Southern Poverty Law Center for 'Hate Group' Label

SPLC’s ‘Hate Map’/IMAGE: Screenshot via (Fair Use)

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) The Center for Immigration Studies—a Washington, D.C.-based immigration-reform policy think-tank—sued the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Cohen, seeking an injunction and damages for the false claims made by the SPLC’s “hate group” project.

“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,” said CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian, according to a press release.

“The Center for Immigration Studies is fighting back against the SPLC smear campaign and its attempt to stifle debate through intimidation and name-calling,” Krikorian said.

SPLC designated the CIS a “hate group,” accusing them of having “official statements or principles” that “attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”


The lawsuit, filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), seeks to prevent Cohen and his colleague, Heidi Beirich, from labeling CIS as a “hate group” and destroying its reputation without evidence.

“CIS does not hate immigrants or anyone else.” Krikorian said. “Our purpose is to make the case for a pro-immigrant policy of lower immigration—fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted. SPLC attacks us simply because it disagrees with these policy views.”

CIS said its opposition to open borders is not anti-immigrant, since it is an opposition to a policy, not a group of people. Plus, immigrant status is not an “immutable characteristic,” according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Plyler v. Doe.

“CIS regularly opposes higher levels of immigration for sound public policy reasons, not because of any animus toward immigrants as human beings,” the press release said.

The SPLC has gained a notorious reputation for attempting to push its liberal agenda by blurring the line between groups that advocate violence and extremist positions with those that are more policy-oriented.

Among the “hate groups” the partisan advocacy group includes on its list of nearly 1,000 organizations throughout the U.S. is the pro-life, pro-traditional marriage organization, Family Research Council. This characterization led to a shooting in 2012, in which the shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins II, said he intended to kill FRC’s employees due to its views.

“Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins said. “I found them online.”