Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) – Bias and Credibility

Center for Immigration Studies - Right Bias - Hate Group - Conservative - Questionable - Fake News - Not CredibleFactual Reporting: Low - Not Credible - Not Reliable - Fake News - Bias


A questionable source exhibits one or more of the following: extreme bias, consistent promotion of propaganda/conspiracies, poor or no sourcing to credible information, a complete lack of transparency, and/or is fake news. Fake News is the deliberate attempt to publish hoaxes and/or disinformation for the purpose of profit or influence (Learn More). Sources listed in the Questionable Category may be very untrustworthy and should be fact-checked on a per article basis. Please note sources on this list are not considered fake news unless specifically written in the reasoning section for that source. See all Questionable sources.

  • Overall, we rate CIS a questionable source based on publishing misleading information (propaganda) regarding immigration and ties either directly or indirectly to the John Tanton Network, a known White Nationalist. 

Detailed Report

Reasoning: Anti-Immigration Propaganda, Misleading Claims
Factual Reporting: LOW
Country: USA
Press Freedom Rating: MOSTLY FREE
Media Type: Organization/Foundation
Traffic/Popularity: Medium Traffic
MBFC Credibility Rating: LOW CREDIBILITY


Launched in 1985, (CIS) was founded by John Tanton, a retired ophthalmologist. He is also known as the founder of Numbers USA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), collectively known as the John Tanton Network. John Tanton believes maintaining an American culture requires “a European-American majority,” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he is a prominent figure in the white-nationalist movement.  

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argues that John Tanton “played no part in its organization” as they state their founder is Otis L. Graham. According to his book, Debating American Immigration, 1882–present, Otis L. Graham was a chairman of the board of The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) (1985-1995).

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) describes itself as “an independent, nonpartisan research organization.” According to the Daily Beast, “CIS focuses on reduced legal immigration and supports increased detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.”

Members of CIS have testified before congress over 100 times between 1995-2009. In 2013, CIS played a significant role in fighting the bipartisan immigration reform bill. Mark Krikorian appeared in Congress to testify against the bill, claiming that “virtually all illegal aliens are guilty of multiple felonies.”

According to Politifact, in 2016, Jason Richwine, best known for his controversial doctoral dissertation entitled “IQ and Immigration Policy,” began writing reports and blogs for CIS about immigration.

In 2016, The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) published “79 immigration actions the next president can take.” According to a Daily Beast article, they state “a number of the 79 items on the list composed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) have either been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the (Trump) administration.”

Read our profile on the United States government and media.

Funded by / Ownership

According to their website, “The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-profit research organization.” CIS does not disclose financial information on the website. However, one of the most prominent donors over the last 20+ years is the Colcom Foundation, established in 1996 by the late heiress Cordelia Scaife May.

According to Krikorian, Tanton hasn’t been involved with CIS for decades. However, Tanton was reportedly a close friend of Cordelia Scaife May, and that friendship lives on through the Colcom Foundation.” According to Inside Philanthropy, “Colcom’s top beneficiaries include every one of Tanton’s anti-immigration groups, including FAIR (over $18 million), NumbersUSA (over $17 million), Tanton’s Social Contract Press (over $10 million), and CIS (over $8 million).

Analysis / Bias

In review, the Center for Immigration Studies publishes news, research, and studies related to the benefits of lower immigration levels. The blog offers news stories and opinions using minimally loaded language such as this: Mexican Public Opinion on Immigration Tells Us Something About Our Own. This opinion piece centers around one source, a Mexican Newspaper that shows Mexicans are also opposed to immigrants from Central America.

CIS also has a section for Op-Eds, which demonstrates a very strong right-leaning bias with loaded emotional headlines such as this: Terror in Paradise: Trinidad and Tobago Is Now a Jihad Hotspot.  The Op-Eds are articles written by CIS staff published in a variety of right-leaning publications such as PJ Media, National Review, and the Questionable CNSNews, which has a terrible track record with fact-checkers.

CIS has also been accused of using a poor methodology and cherry-picking information. For example, in this strongly right-leaning Cato Institute article dated 12/5/2018, “Center for Immigration Studies Overstates Immigrant, Non-Citizen, and Native Welfare Use,” they report that “there are a few issues with the CIS report and an unsound methodological choice that they made that results in inflating the welfare use rates for immigrants and natives.” Cato also cited them in 2015 for exaggeration through cherry-picking information.

In 2009, the SPLC pointed out four more studies debunked as inaccurate, which you can read here.

In general, CIS publishes information meant to sway political leaders and the general voter that immigration is harmful to the USA due to economic reasons and through claims of increased crime. However, CIS has published misleading information in many cases, as evidenced above.

Failed Fact Checks

  • None in the Last 5 years

Overall, we rate CIS a questionable source based on publishing misleading information (propaganda) regarding immigration and ties either directly or indirectly to the John Tanton Network, a known White Nationalist.  (2/8/2017) Updated (D. Van Zandt 05/29/2022)


Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check

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