Hours after the Washington Post profile of anti-immigration activist Mark Krikorian hit doorsteps Tuesday, he got fired — from a volunteer job.
Catholic Charities informed Krikorian that he can no longer teach its civics classes for green card-holders seeking to pass the citizenship test after he brought a Post reporter to his classroom last week without prior approval.
But the group’s leaders maintain that Krikorian also crossed a line by politicizing his charitable work, as they saw it: Volunteers are barred from discussing their political views on the job, and while Krikorian didn’t appear to do so with his students, “he was clearly facilitating a profile of himself in which he was expressing political viewpoints,” said Michael J. Donohue, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.
“Whether he intended to do so or not, that’s what he did. He used the people we believe he was legitimately trying to help as a backdrop in a story in which he was making political arguments.”
Krikorian — who, as director of the Center for Immigration Studies, advocates policies that would staunch the flow of immigrants to the U.S. — told us he was stunned by his dismissal. When he emailed a Catholic Charities manager — admittedly at the last minute — if he could bring our colleague Manuel Roig-Franzia to the classroom, he was told in a response the next day that it was no problem.
“If you did a story about someone on the other side of the debate, I guarantee you this call would not have been made,” Krikorian said. “The pro-immigration folks were really ticked off.” While he maintains that Catholic Charities staff knew where he worked, Donohue said they did not know before the story ran.
Krikorian said he’ll miss the gig (he says he did it for about a year and a half; Donohue said it was just under a year) and the interaction with students. “You get to know different people and where they’re from,” he said. “I liked doing it, frankly. I’ll see if anyone else will take me.”