The Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday criticized White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller for sharing statistics released by the Center for Immigration Studies, which the civil rights group includes on its list of hate groups.
Miller sent at least 46 emails involving CIS over a ten-month period to former Breitbart News editor Katie McHugh, the SPLC said in the second of a serious of lengthy reports based on roughly 900 leaked emails Miller sent to Breitbart during the 2016 presidential election cycle. One of the emails included an “embargoed” CIS report and was sent from Miller’s government email address.
CIS is a mainstream think tank that works to advance restrictionist immigration policy through academic research. Reports produced by CIS scholars are widely cited in conservative media and elsewhere.
McHugh, who recently renounced her support for white nationalism and her affiliation with Breitbart, now claims the publication relied on CIS research to smear entire racial demographics.
“We used [CIS material] to spin a narrative where immigrants of color were not only dangerous, violent individuals but also posed an existential threat to America,” McHugh said of what Breitbart did with the research Miller provided them. “We never fact-checked anything. We never called up other organizations to get any other perspective about those studies. … It was understood. You just write it up.”
McHugh eventually wrote an article using the CIS information Miller sent her titled, “Surge of Mexican Immigration Pushes Foreign-Born Population to 42.1 Million as Economy Stagnates.” She has since attempted back away from her alt-right past after being fired by Breitbart over her anti-Muslim tweets.
“It is not exactly a newsflash that political staffers pitch stories to journalists,” Breitbart spokesperson Elizabeth Moore said in response to the publication of Miller’s emails.
The SPLC added CIS to its list of anti-immigrant hate groups in 2016, accusing the group of “using data to portray immigrants unfavorably” and associating with “white nationalist writers.”
CIS executive director Mark Krikorian pushed back on the SPLC’s designation in 2017, saying the civil rights group “conflates groups that really do preach hatred, such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nation of Islam, with ones that simply do not share the SPLC’s political preferences.”
The SPLC has been called out for recklessly including others in its catalogs of hate groups and individuals as well, such as the Family Research Council, which opposes abortion.
The group was previously forced to apologize and pay a $3.375 million settlement to former Islamic radical-turned-Muslim-reformer Maajid Nawaz for including him in its “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”
The SPLC also apologized in 2015 to Ben Carson, then a Republican presidential candidate, for placing him on its “Extremist Watch List.”