The Center for Immigration Studies, one of the most visible anti-immigration groups in the country, has brought its feud to a judge with a non-profit civil rights organization, claiming that the inclusion in the list of known hate groups of the Southern Poverty Law Center is a federal law. initially violates successfully to target the mob.
"SPLC and its leaders have every right to oppose our work in the field of immigration, but they do not have the right to call us a hate group and suggest that we are racists," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of Center for Immigration Studies. "The Center for Immigration Studies is fighting against the SPLC defamation campaign and is trying to suppress the debate through intimidation and verbal abuse."
In the complaint filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, the Center for Immigration Studies claims that the inclusion of the group on the list of SPLC means fraud and that the CIS has cost at least $ 10,000 of property damage. The complaint also alleges that the alleged fraud is contrary to the Racketeer Influence and Corruption Act, commonly known as RICO, a federal law originally written to target organized crime but now the most widely used to prosecute companies for false statements sent by mail or electronically.
"This is a plan to call CIS a false hate group," Howard Foster, lawyer at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Daily Beast. "They will never stop attacking CIS as a hate group."
The complaint, filed on Wednesday morning, claims that the SPLC has maintained the group's presence on the list of hate groups "despite the knowledge that CIS did not fit the definition of the SPLC hase group." Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Heidi Beirich – who oversees the annual investigation of the SPLC of American hate groups – the group seeks financial damage and a ban on banning the SPLC "from further extortion activities."
"CIS regularly opposes higher immigration levels for reasons of public interest, not because of animus towards immigrants as people," the group said in a press release. "CIS hopes that this lawsuit will lead to Mr. Cohen and Ms. Beirich turning their attention to actual cases of racial animus."
Despite his fiery language, experts from RICO The Daily Beast told that CIS's complaint does not contain much legal water.
"There are quite big problems with this complaint," said Jeffrey E. Grell, a lawyer and expert in lawyer practices. "This is all about being called a hate group by the SPLC … but an opinion is not fraudulent."
"It's just a little bit wrong," continued Grell. "I do not think it's worth much, especially because I do not think it's fraud … The Southern Poverty Law Center does not say that [its definition] is the only basis with which you can be defined as a hate group. "
"There is so much waste that is stored under RICO," Grell added. "If I were a judge, I would reject it."
Even the lawyer who wrote the statute told The Daily Beast that the complaint is messy on details & # 39; is, especially for a RICO suit.
"A quick read says one thing: they're in DC to claim compensation and a ban RICO is generally not supposed to include equality help," said Professor G. Robert Blakey, a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School and the literal author of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, which includes RICO. "Not too attentive."
Since 2016, the SPLC has included CIS in its list of hate groups, in response to their repeated edition of white nationalist and anti-Semitic writers & # 39; called.
"It has a history of making racist inciting statements, associating with white nationalists and spreading the work of racist writers," Cohen told The Daily Beast. "His lawsuit is nothing more than a heavy-handed attempt to silence us from exercising our right to first change to express our opinion, and we look forward to defending ourselves in court."
But the Center for Immigration Studies claims that it does not fit into the SPLC definition of a hate group, which is defined as & # 39; an organization that has beliefs or practices that attack or defame a whole class of people, usually because of their unchangeable characteristics. "
"SPLC knows that CIS is not a hate group, by its own definition, but it calls it a hate group," Foster said.