The Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the economic consequences of immigration reform uses absurd methodology to come to conclusions entirely at odds with the organization’s own findings in 2006. Perhaps one explanation for this incoherence is that one of the paper’s coauthors, a new hire, opposes Hispanic immigration because he thinks Latinos are stupid.
Jason Richwine joined Heritage in 2010, after finishing his PhD in Public Policy in 2009. The Washington Post’s Dylan Matthews dug up Richwine’s dissertation, which was titled “IQ And Immigration.” In it, Richwine argues that Hispanics have and will always have lower IQs than whites. Matthews summarizes:
Richwine’s dissertation asserts that there are deep-set differentials in intelligence between races. While it’s clear he thinks it is partly due to genetics — ‘the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ’ — he argues the most important thing is that the differences in group IQs are persistent, for whatever reason. He writes, ‘No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.’
Richwine concludes from this that American immigration policy should encourage high IQ individuals to immigrate, but limit low IQ immigration: as he puts it, “I believe there is a strong case for IQ selection, since it is theoretically a win-win for the U.S. and potential immigrants.” Since this eugenic language is politically toxic, Richwine advocates dressing it up in the language of “high skill” and “low skill” immigration. As Matthews details, the Heritage report does exactly that.
The study of race and intelligence has long been a problematic area for conservatives. In 1994, conservative pundit Charles Murray wrote a book called The Bell Curve, whose argument that blacks are on-average less intelligent than whites kicked off a critical firestorm. Conservatives since have generally defended Murray (who currently works at the American Enterprise Institute), occasionally citing him to get to some unsavory conclusions. Recently published research does not support the idea that there is an identifiably racial IQ gap, and the difficulty in defining “race” as a biological term makes it hard to pin down an appropriate methodology for studying the question in the first place.
Richwine is not the only author of the Heritage report with questionable views. Robert Rector, the paper’s lead author, was the source for then candidate Romney’s racially charged attack on President Obama’s welfare policy, and has spent his career dismissing the idea that poverty hurts people. On Tuesday, Rector admitted he hadn’t read the whole immigration bill before coauthoring his analysis of it with Richwine.
Heritage Vice President of Communications Mike Gonzalez released a statement to ThinkProgress disowning Richwine’s dissertation:
This is not a work product of The Heritage Foundation. Its findings in no way reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation. Nor do the findings affect the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to the U.S. taxpayer.