But the Heritage study is not only problematic because of its economic assumptions. Heritage is now trying to distance itself from one of the co-authors of its study, Jason Richwine, who has written for at least one white nationalist publication. In his doctoral dissertation, Richwine also wrote that immigrants have lower IQs than the native-born population and that, "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." The premise of the statement is that "Hispanics" are a defined, homogenous group and that IQ is almost entirely heritable. Neither is true.
Hispanics are not a racially or genetically homogenous group. They include individuals whose ancestors are European, African or Indian -- or some combination of these groups. Intermarriage rates between Hispanics and non-Hispanics are growing rapidly; more than a third of all Hispanic women are married to non-Hispanic whites, and the rate increases with education and generation. The Hispanic population is becoming "whiter" because a larger proportion is made up of the offspring of intermarriage. But I doubt this will allay the fears of Richwine and others who fret about the browning of America and falling IQs.
Richwine's research on the subject of immigration and IQ follows a long tradition going back to the eugenicists and nativists of the previous century. In 1924, proponents of legislation to restrict immigration from southern and eastern Europe unfurled a chart in the U.S. Capitol rotunda showing the cost to taxpayers of supporting "social inadequates": the Italians, Jews, Poles and others who were accused of degrading the American gene pool. The predictions of these nativists didn't come true -- nor will Heritage's predictions of a permanent and expanding underclass fueled by immigration reform.
As a conservative and a longtime admirer of The Heritage Foundation, I am saddened that it would risk its reputation for sound economic analysis by promoting faulty research aimed at scaring rather than informing the public.
Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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