Mark Krikorian

Executive Director of CIS

Despite his routine bigoted comments about immigrants and Muslims, Mark Krikorian is one of the most prominent figures in the anti-immigrant movement and is regularly cited by the media. Despite Krikorian’s efforts to distance himself and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) from white nationalists in order to maintain their perceived credibility, Krikorian has defended CIS’s circulation of content from VDARE. VDARE is a website that routinely publishes the work of white nationalists and anti-Semites, but Krikorian compared it to the New York Times, and counted it as an “important” site for immigration news.

  • Krikorian, who previously worked at FAIR, has served as CIS’s executive director since 1995. CIS founder John Tanton wrote to Krikorian to congratulate him on his new role, and on several other occasions he wrote Krikorian about “various aspects of policy.” He has worked with a number of CIS’s current staffers and those who have left to join other anti-immigrant groups or the Trump Administration including Jessica Vaughan, Andrew Arthur, Steven Camarota, Rosemary Jenks, John Miano, Jon Feere, and Ronald  Mortensen.
  • Krikorian who penned the book entitled The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal, authors policy papers, provides research to lawmakers, testifies at congressional hearings, offers commentary to journalists, and is an active Twitter user. Krikorian advocates for attrition through enforcement or self deportation, ending birthright citizenship, imposing radical restrictions on refugee entries, restricting immigrants who are Muslim, massive reductions to legal immigration, and more.
  • The CIS executive director has floated the idea of housing unaccompanied children at Guantanamo Bay and advocated for a “zero-tolerance” policy. Further, Krikorian wrote that critics of family separation were generating a “wave of hysteria” and described widely reported photos as “atrocity propaganda.” 
  • CIS holds an unprecedented amount of power and influence in the Trump Administration, and has provided the policy framework for the President’s harsh and unpopular immigration measures. Additionally, current CIS fellow Ronald Mortensen has been nominated to lead the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the State Department agency responsible for protecting refugees, and separately, the group’s former legal policy analyst Jon Feere, now serves as a senior advisor at ICE.
  • The group has hosted several officials including then-Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan, then-USCIS Director Lee Francis Cissna, EOIR’s James McHenry, and Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli, at their “Immigration Newsmaker” events and staffers have championed the Trump Administration’s cruel policy of separating families.
  • Krikorian, who has said he doesn’t meet with President Trump on a regular basis, has indicated that he frequently deals with immigration staff in the White House: “Usually we’ll get requests about, ‘Is this a good idea or do you have research on X, Y, Z?’”
  • According to NPR, emails obtained during discovery for the 2020 Census citizenship question lawsuit, revealed that Trump Administration officials suggested CIS staff members Mark Krikorian and Steven Camarota be contacted for advice and support.
  • of separating families.
  • In a 2017 ‘Giving Tuesday’ blog post, executive director Mark Krikorian bragged about being referred to as the Trump Administration’s “go-to source for immigration research,” and that the Administration’s immigration principles were “developed and advocated” by CIS. Krikorian stated in a blog, “The White House has also submitted to Congress a wish list of 70 immigration improvements, most of which we have developed and advocated.”
  • Krikorian has called the presence of President Trump’s chief policy advisor Stephen Miller in the White House important, saying: “If he weren’t there, I’m pretty sure it’d be worse.”

Anti-immigrant Views

  • Following the 2019 mass murder in an El Paso, Texas Walmart, which targeted Latinx people, Krikorian called the manifesto of the alleged killer,“remarkably well-written for a 21-year-old loner.” 
  • In an interview with C-SPAN Krikorian expressed that “mass immigration in a modern society” is a “problem in a whole variety of reasons.” The interview was regarding his organization being funded by Cordelia Scaife May, a population control advocate who believed the U.S. was “being invaded on all fronts” by immigrants who “breed like hamsters.”
  • In 2015 the former FAIR employee spoke at The Social Contract Press’ annual Writers’ Workshop event. The Social Contract Press was founded in 1990 by John Tanton, who served as editor for the outlet known for featuring white nationalist writers, and most infamously in 1994 republished an English translation of the openly racist novel The Camp of the Saints.
  • During the 2016 presidential election, Krikorian proposed returning to the Cold War-era policy of  “ideological exclusion” as an alternative to Donald Trump’s call for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” In the same piece for National Review, Krikorian called for radical immigration cuts targeting Muslims: “So alongside ideological screening we need to cut immigration overall, focusing on the categories most likely to cause problems. That means eliminating the visa lottery, an absurd program in its own right but also the source of a disproportionate share of Muslim immigration; limiting family immigration to the closest relations, to prevent a cascading chain of relatives; dramatically curbing refugee resettlement…and reducing the number of foreign-student admissions, the feeder program for a large share of new permanent immigration from the Islamic world.”
  • In an article for the National Review entitled “End Birthright Citizenship Now,” Krikorian called the 14th Amendment an “archaic practice.” He argued, “What matters is that automatic citizenship for anyone and everyone born on our soil is a policy that has outlived its usefulness.”
  • Krikorian, who often disparages immigrants on social media, has previously referred to immigrants as a “poor, problem-ridden demographic who are addicted to big government,” and authored a book titled: The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal.
  • Krikorian and his staff are quoted by journalists nationwide hundreds of times annually, falsely positioning themselves as moderately conservative on immigration and providing an opposing viewpoint in a range of articles.
  • The CIS Executive Director, who once stated in the National Review that Haiti “wasn’t colonized long enough,” wrote for the same outlet that the “Islamic world democracy” faced the “problem of a vicious people.” In an article for the National Review published in April 2011, Krikorian wrote, “Well, I’m afraid that in the Islamic world democracy faces the problem of a vicious people, one where the desire for freedom is indeed written in every human heart, but the freedom to do evil.”

Anti-immigrant Activity

  • CIS’s A Pen and a Phone: 79 Immigration Actions the Next President Can Take report has provided a blueprint for the Trump Administration to make life for immigrants and refugees in the United States and those hoping to enter the country as difficult as possible. Policies such as restricting the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, an expansion of public charge, ramping up interior enforcement measures, terminating the OPT program, dismantling the asylum system, and ending DACA, are all laid out in detail in the CIS report.
  • In addition to calling for DACA’s repeal, Krikorian has advocated for leveraging protections for DACA recipients in exchange for attrition through enforcement measures and cuts to legal immigration. In a June 2017 blog post, Krikorian wrote, “Though I was initially skeptical, it might even make sense to try to trade a real, lawful amnesty for the DACAs in exchange for important immigration changes only Congress can pass – specifically, universal E-Verify and cuts in legal immigration.” 
  • In a July 2017 interview with Breitbart Texas, Krikorian called for a “legal immigration offset” in exchange for some protections for Dreamers. Krikorian stated, “We’re talking about three-quarters of a million people included in this. There’s got to be a legal immigration offset. The DREAM Act on its own is simply indefensible.”
  • As early as 2010, before DACA, CIS’s Mark Krikorian was outspoken in advocating for harsh attrition through enforcement measures and cuts to legal immigration in exchange legal status for Dreamers. Since DACA’s rescission, CIS has worked to derail all bipartisan efforts to provide legal protections for Dreamers. 
  • During Congressional negotiations on the program in 2017, Krikorian drove calls to the offices of House Republicans willing to find a permanent solution in the U.S. for DACA-eligible immigrants.
  • In July 2018, CIS filed a lawsuit against USCIS requesting DACA application data, which the U.S. government promised would not be used for enforcement actions against the program’s recipients.
  • On August 5, 2017 Univision reported that Krikorian’s group helped Stephen Miller, along with the bill’s sponsors Senators Cotton and Perdue draft the RAISE Act, which would slash immigration numbers by half.
  • Krikorian has repeatedly attacked the TPS program on social media and in the National Review. In one instance, he even went so far as to call for the program to be abolished.
  • For the National Review, Krikorian wrote in 2018, “It’s long past time for this “temporary” status to end.” Further, in CIS’s 2016 “Pen and a Phone” policy report the group called on the next President to terminate “TPS designations that have been in effect for years for several nations, such as El Salvador…” and to issue an “EO directing that no TPS designation may stay in effect longer than one year unless vetted and approved through the National Security Council prior to being extended, and only in a one-year increment.” 
  • Following the Trump Administration’s expansion of public charge, Krikorian praised the move in a piece for the National Review citing his colleague, Jason Richwine, who resigned from The Heritage Foundation after it was revealed his college dissertation called for limiting immigration based on intelligence.
  • In 2011, Krikorian teamed up with Roy Beck for an event to mark the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 
  • Also in 2011, Krikorian spoke at a CIS press conference along with Senator Jeff Sessions, in which the Alabama Senator thanked the organization for their “invaluable research.” Sessions stated, “I would just say this: You know, any kind of a debate or a discussion like this, most of us don’t have time to go out and crunch the numbers and census data and go through all of this. I just want to thank CIS for providing invaluable research.”
network-graph Created with Sketch. John Tanton Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation Armstrong Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas The Weeden Foundation Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation ) Ted Cruz Steve King Lou Barletta Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Mo Brooks CIS FAIR IRLI NumbersUSA Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Kris Kobach Jessica Vaughan Sessions Jeff Bannon Steve Miller Stephen Julie Kirchner Feere Jon Ken Paxton Abbott Greg Jan Brewer Steven Camarota Wilcox Dale Rosemary Jenks Miano John Michael Hethmon Breitbart Fox News National Review FAIR CIS NumbersUSA IRLI Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation Armstrong Foundation The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) John Tanton FAIR CIS IRLI NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS FAIR IRLI NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS FAIR IRLI NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS FAIR NumbersUSA John Tanton CIS Jeff Sessions Stephen Miller Julie Kirchner Ken Paxton Greg Abbott Jan Brewer Dale Wilcox Michael Hethmon Steve King Fox News Lou Barletta Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Kris Kobach Jessica Vaughan Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas John Tanton Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Breitbart Steve Bannon Jon Feere Steven Camarota Rosemary Jenks John Miano Breitbart Armstrong Foundation Jeff Sessions Stephen Miller Steve King Fox News Lou Barletta Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Jessica Vaughan Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas John Tanton National Review Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Armstrong Foundation Jeff Sessions Stephen Miller Steve King Lou Barletta Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Louie Gohmert Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck The Weeden Foundation Foundation for the Carolinas John Tanton Rosemary Jenks Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Julie Kirchner Ken Paxton Greg Abbott Jan Brewer Dale Wilcox Michael Hethmon Kris Kobach John Miano Sidney A. Swensrud Foundation Lou Barletta Dan Stein Mark Krikorian Roy Beck The Weeden Foundation John Tanton Scaife Family (Colcom Foundation) Jan Brewer FAIR NumbersUSA Jeff Sessions IRLI Julie Kirchner John Tanton CIS FAIR NumbersUSA Jeff Sessions IRLI John Tanton CIS FAIR NumbersUSA Jeff Sessions IRLI CIS John Tanton FAIR IRLI Jeff Sessions Lou Barletta Steve King FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions Lou Barletta Dan Stein IRLI FAIR CIS IRLI FAIR NumbersUSA CIS IRLI CIS FAIR IRLI Ted Cruz National Review Mo Brooks Paul Gosar Marsha Blackburn Lou Barletta Mark Krikorian Roy Beck Steve King Dan Stein NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jessica Vaughan Kris Kobach Breitbart CIS NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Dan Stein IRLI FAIR CIS IRLI FAIR IRLI FAIR Jeff Sessions Jessica Vaughan NumbersUSA FAIR CIS IRLI Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Kris Kobach Jessica Vaughan Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions NumbersUSA FAIR CIS NumbersUSA FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions CIS Steve Bannon FAIR FAIR CIS Jeff Sessions CIS STATE ELECTEDS THE ARCHITECT THE FUNDERS THE MAIN ORGS TRUMP ADMIN LOBBYING, LITIGATION & POLICY LEADERSHIP CONGRESS MEDIA MEGAPHONE
View the Network