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Banish Richwine, But The Data Remain

David Frum says you can send Jason Richwine to the woodshed if you like — and that has happened, because of his view that Mexican-Americans have lower IQs  — but you can’t make the data on the fiscal cost of immigration to the American taxpayer go away. Frum:

If you agree with the Heritage study – and so far I have not heard any good reason to doubt it – the results are so important and explosive that the coauthor’s other views dwindle into a mere footnote to history. It’s not some personal quirk of Jason Richwine’s that has caused him to doubt that the legalized immigrants will rapidly raise their skill levels or education standards. The most authoritative study of Mexican immigration over time has found exactly the same thing. Edward Teles and Velma Ortiz write from the left in their book, Generations of Exclusion. They indict American society, discriminatory educational attitudes, and other “exclusionary” forces – but they have the goods that Mexican-American inter-generational progress has slowed to a stall. I would follow Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies in putting the blame on the new American labor market and the reduction in blue-collar wages in a post-industrial economy.

But whatever the reason, the facts are the facts – and the math is the math.

Frum goes on to explain that the key word is “fiscal,” which is not a synonym for “economic.” The problem is that Latin American immigrants made citizens are going to end up costing the government more in benefits — chiefly health care — than they pay in. The economy isn’t growing fast enough to sustain benefits at this level. Something’s got to give. Frum says conservatives like lobbyist Haley Barbour who have denounced the Heritage study are bullshitting. More:

A lot of people come to these immigration debates with strong prior ideological commitments. Jason Richwine’s aren’t very attractive, but neither are Grover Norquist’s. The apologists for plutocracy are content this week to use anti-racism as their debating tool. But a tool is all it is.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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