Jessica Vaughan of the Nativist Center for Immigration Studies Advocates Publishing a List of ‘Criminal Aliens’


During a recent appearance at the National Press Club, Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) gave a talk on sanctuary cities and how the Trump administration should respond to them. Despite its innocuous sounding name, CIS was one of three anti-immigrant think tanks founded by Michigan ophthalmologist and white nationalist John Tanton.

In addition, the current head of CIS, Mark Krikorian, has had a long, sordid history of associating with white nationalists and other extremists. Under Krikorian’s leadership, the CIS has been primarily known for pushing misleading stats in an effort to gin up support for crackdowns on undocumented immigrants and those who harbor them. In one particularly amusing incident, CIS made the demonstrably false claim that the entire state of North Dakota was a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants.

So it should come as no surprise that Vaughan, the group’s Policy Studies Director, recited the most popular right-wing myths about immigration, including the claim that undocumented immigrants steal American jobs and depress wages.

In addition, Vaughan made some suggestions for how Donald Trump can combat sanctuary cities which, to varying degrees, use loopholes to avoid cooperating with the federal government’s efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. “So what can be done by the Trump administration to address the sanctuary problem?” she asked. “It’s reasonable to expect that this will be a focus for the new administration, because the president-elect has said so and he clearly took to heart the stories of the Americans who’ve lost family members to crimes by illegal aliens.”

“Addressing the sanctuaries has to be an important part of the Trump administration’s plan to boost the deportations of the estimated two million criminal aliens who are now in the country,” she continued. She then offered a word of advice on how to deal with these “criminal aliens”:

The next thing I would do, if I were in the Trump administration, would be to begin to publish a weekly list of all of the criminal aliens who are released by the sanctuaries. I would call it Denny’s List, after Dennis McCann who was killed by an illegal alien drunk driver in Chicago in 2011. That illegal alien, his name was Saul Chavez, was one of the first people released under the Cook County sanctuary policy which is one of the most extreme in the country. And he has never faced charges because he fled to Mexico because Cook County released him because of the newly adopted ordinance that said that they will not turn anyone over to ICE, or hold anyone for ICE. That kind of a list would give you folks here at the Press Club something to write about on a weekly basis. There’s no question.

There’s certainly some truth to this story. In 2011 William “Denny” McCann was struck and killed by a drunk driver named Saul Chavez. McCann’s death was particularly gruesome, and the situation was aggravated by the fact that Chavez had previously been convicted of drunk driving in 2009.

However, as the facts make clear, there were other options available both to law enforcement and the courts that could have prevented this tragedy. For example, a harsher penalty for his 2009 conviction, being labeled a flight risk resulting in a higher bond (Chavez paid 10% of the $250,000 bond amount and was released), and even a narrowing of Cook County’s policy to allow for holding undocumented immigrants suspected of felonies.