IMMIGRATION POLICY CENTER
March 23, 2011
Founded in 2003, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the policy arm of the American Immigration Council (AIC), formerly known as the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF). Like its parent organization, IPC is an advocate of open borders and contends that the massive influx of illegal immigrants into America is due to U.S. government policy, since “the broken immigration system […] spurs unauthorized immigration in the first place.” On IPC’s blog, Immigration Impact, its staff engages in a more divisive interpretation of the immigration issue, arguing that the rhetoric of many Republican politicians and the “radical right,” in general, fuels racial hate and bigotry in American culture.
Through the American Immigration Council, IPC has access to the considerable grant money of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the ChevronTexaco Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI). In addition, IPC’s staff members are connected to some of the most powerful institutions of the radical left; IPC staffers have previously occupied prominent positions in the OSI, the AILA, the National Immigration Forum (NIF), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Immigration Outreach Center (Phoenix, Arizona), the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and the New America Media, an arm of the Pacific News Service.
Benjamin E. Johnson served as Director of IPC from its inception in 2003 until 2007, when he became the Executive Director of IPC’s parent organization, AIC, with Mary Giovagnoli taking over his role at IPC. Giovagnoli had previously worked for the National Immigration Forum (NIF); she later became an attorney with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security; and in 2005 she was named senior advisor to the Director of Congressional Relations at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, where she worked in conjunction with Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office on immigration.
IPC’s major contention is that the “enforcement-only model has pushed immigrants further underground, undermining community safety and national security.” The organization particularly criticizes border enforcement, which purportedly creates the conditions for criminality and violence by forcing “unauthorized immigrants” to resort to using smugglers to help them reach the Unite States: “Because of increased enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the heightened risks of crossing the border, many unauthorized immigrants cannot survive the trip alone and rely on professional smugglers.” IPC explains that the “violence” of “smuggling networks” thereby results from border enforcement, since there would be no need for smugglers if the border were not so well-guarded; that border enforcement, in other words, creates criminality. IPC also claims that border enforcement transforms what would otherwise be "a circular flow of migration" into "permanent settlement." The problems of border enforcement, IPC continues, are only compounded by “interior immigration enforcement” which results “in an enforcement culture that criminalizes immigration violations and results in mistakes and civil rights violations.”
Michele Waslin, the Senior Policy Analyst at IPC and a former director at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), emphasizes that “the anti-immigrant tenor of the national immigration debate has cultivated unfettered hatred and bigotry against an entire ethnic population.” “By demonizing undocumented immigrants,” she adds, “a target has been painted on the backs of legal immigrants and even U.S. citizens who are now subject to increased hostility, hate, and discrimination.”
Wendy Sefsaf, Communications Manager at IPC and a former employee at George Soros’ Open Society Institute, argues that Republican politicians are helping to fuel “a hate-filled debate” on immigration by “pitting native-born workers against their foreign-born counterparts,” a position which “intentionally mislead[s] the public and fuel[s] hatred that leads to tragedy.”
According to Walter Ewing, senior researcher at IPC, “nativists and other elements of the radical right in this country are tapping into a deep and dangerous reservoir of political discontent.” The “radical right” and the violence they either commit or embolden, he asserts, are creating an atmosphere of hostility to Latinos.