The Heritage Report has had a rough week, after being criticized by everyone from Paul Ryan to Marco Rubio to Jeff Flake. Co-author of the report Robert Rector admitted that he hasn’t even examined the full immigration bill that his study critiques, and told Larry Kudlow that the report didn’t bother to calculate the economic benefits from immigrants. Keep in mind, this Heritage Report was going to make the case against reform for the anti-immigrant crowd. But it’s been a disaster — and it keeps getting worse. Instead of changing the debate, Heritage has proven how much the debate has changed.
Today there’s this piece out from Wonkblog’s Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post, about the study’s other co-author, Jason Richwine, and a PhD dissertation he wrote (in 2009!) that defended a belief in “a genetic component to group differences in IQ.” He wrote “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.”
Here’s more from Matthews about Richwine’s thesis:
The Heritage Foundation made something of a splash with its study suggesting that immigration reform will cost the public trillions. Past work by one of its co-authors helps put that piece in context.
Jason Richwine is relatively new to the think tank world. He received his PhD in public policy from Harvard in 2009, and joined Heritage after a brief stay at the American Enterprise Institute. Richwine’s doctoral dissertation is titled “IQ and Immigration Policy”; the contents are well summarized in the dissertation abstract:
The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.
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.”
Toward the end of the thesis, Richwine writes that though he believes racial differences in IQ to be real and persistent, one need not agree with that to accept his case for basing immigration on IQ. Rather than excluding what he judges to be low-IQ races, we can just test each individual’s IQ and exclude those with low scores. “I believe there is a strong case for IQ selection,” he writes, “since it is theoretically a win-win for the U.S. and potential immigrants.” He does caution against referring to it as IQ-based selection, saying that using the term “skill-based” would “blunt the negative reaction.”
We’ve seen this kind of racial superiority and support for eugenics before—the father of the anti-immigrant movement and founder of hate groups such as FAIR, John Tanton, was a known white supremacist. But saying that it’s difficult to argue against the idea that Hispanics will have low-IQ children? In 2009? No wonder the GOP is having difficulty reaching out to minority voters.
Meanwhile, Heritage’s Spanish-language site, libertad.org, features completely different messaging on immigration and has no mention of the Heritage Report.