Jim DeMint
Jim DeMint, president of the Heritage Foundation, gestures during a May 6 news conference on immigration. (Evan Vucci / AP)

It’s been a tough go of it for Heritage ever since it released its study asserting immigration reform would cost trillions. It was roundly criticized by both liberal and conservative analysts. Then today the dam really broke.

The Post reports that the dissertation of the study’s co-author, Jason Richwine, asserted, “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.” No wonder he came up with such a study; his dissertation adviser was George Borjas, a Harvard professor infamous for his crusade against immigration (legal or not).

Jennifer Korn, executive director of the pro-immigration-reform conservative Hispanic Leadership Network, responds: “If you start with the off-base premise that Hispanic immigrants have a lower IQ, it’s no surprise how they came up with such a flawed study.” She continued: “Richwine’s comments are bigoted and ignorant. America is a nation of immigrants; to impugn the intelligence of immigrants is to offend each and every American and the foundation of our country. The American Hispanic community is entrepreneurial, and we strive to better our lives through hard work and determination. This is not a community hampered by low intelligence but a community consistently moving forward to better themselves and our country.”

Heritage scrambled to distance itself from the author’s IQ views, with a spokesperson insisting that they did not relate to the viability of its study. But for the reasons Korn gives it most certainly does. No wonder the study postulates that legalized immigrants will be poor and become a drain on society.

Moreover, that Heritage engaged such a person to author its immigration study suggests that the “fix” was in from the get-go. It also raises the question of whether Heritage is now hiring fringe characters to generate its partisan studies of questionable scholarship. I expect that will be about all we hear from Heritage on the study for a while.

It certainly undermines the cause of all immigration opponents to have their prized work authored by such a character. It’s an unpleasant reminder that sincere opponents of reform should distance themselves from the collection of extremists and bigots who populate certain anti-immigrant groups. One can certainly be anti-immigration-reform and not be anti-Hispanic, but it doesn’t help to be rallying around a report by someone convinced that “the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ.”

Meanwhile, in an embarrassment of a different magnitude, Heritage’s assertion that immigration reform would be a drain on entitlements was rebutted today by none other than the Social Security Administration. In a letter to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Stephen C. Gross, chief actuary for the agency explained that “the bill would add more than $300 billion in net additional revenues to Social Security and Medicare over the coming decade.”

UPDATE: My colleague Greg Sargent points to another key finding of the actuary that  “the Gang of Eight immigration reform proposal would create 3.22 million jobs by 2024, and boost GDP by 1.63 percent.” This is precisely in keeping with reform advocates’ arguments. Once again, it conflicts with Heritage. If the Gang of 8 bill is pro-growth, pro-jobs and helps close the deficit, why is a conservative think tank against it? You got me.

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.