A day after yet another comprehensive fact-check poked holes into a study from the conservative Heritage Foundation on the costs of immigration reform, PBS' NewsHour aired a segment with the study's co-author in which it treated the report's conclusions as legitimate. But as experts and conservatives have noted, there is nothing remotely sound about the study's methodology, which renders its conclusion that reform would cost $6.3 trillion invalid.
On June 4, FactCheck.org published a definitive fact-check of the Heritage study that outlined several problems with the report's underlying assumptions, including the fact that the report is not an analysis of the bill currently being debated in the Senate.
FactCheck noted that one of the report's authors, Robert Rector, has admitted that "some aspects of the bill, such as increasing green cards or legal permanent residence visas for high-skill workers, would likely lower the cost projection." Other problems it identified included:
But on the June 5 edition of PBS' NewsHour, Rector's wild conclusions were treated with credibility. Host Ray Suarez introduced the discussion -- which also featured Center for American Progress visiting fellow Robert Lynch -- as a debate on the "contrasting views on what immigration reform would cost, and whether it would help or hurt the U.S. economy."
From the June 7 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Right-wing media outlets are hyping a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled nativist organization -- which claims that the Senate's immigration bill would double the number of guest workers admitted into the country each year. The study, however, is just the latest in a series of flawed, debunked studies that CIS has released.
The outlets - including the Daily Caller, Newsmax, The Washington Times, Breitbart.com, and Drudge Report -- have all highlighted the study which claims that in the first year of the Senate's proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill, "nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed" will be admitted to the United States. The study also claims that the bill would double the number of temporary workers admitted each year compared to current levels.
What these outlets fail to mention is that, like many of CIS' previous studies -- and others they have latched on to in order to undermine immigration reform -- this study is flawed and its conclusions are bogus.
Philip Wolgin, senior policy analyst for immigration at the Center for American Progress, emphasized the top five reasons the CIS study "misses the mark," including its lack of methodology, double-counting temporary and permanent immigrants, misrepresenting who will actually compete with American workers, and the miscounting of visa categories. Wolgin explained that CIS makes significant statistical errors, including what he calls the "absurd" idea that 950,000 people would apply for and be granted the V Visa in the first year after the immigration reform bill's passage.
The V visa is a temporary visa that allows the family members of legal permanent residents to remain in the country legally until they are granted permanent residency as well. As the Center for American Progress explained, even though 75 percent of spouses and children of permanent residents are exempted from per-country quotas, some families still face up to 19 years apart due to backlogs in the immigration system.
Wolgin also pointed out that among the three visa categories that make up 83 percent of the increases in the CIS study, CIS over-counted by more than 255,000 people.
From the June 6 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Immigration reform is inching closer to reality, and conservatives standing in (thus far) fruitless opposition are careening ever further from it. That means that as the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" Senate bill worms its way towards passage, the anti-immigrant histrionics and nativism are going to spike and eventually crescendo. The June 3 Washington Times delivers one of those spikes in the form of an op-ed railing against dual-citizenship, naturalization, and immigrants in general.
"There is a common belief that if an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, then he has become an American. It is a naive belief," writes Ian de Silva, whose degree of expertise in sociological matters can be gleaned from his author bio, reproduced here in full: "Ian de Silva is an engineer who has interests in politics and history." His first and best example of the unreliable character of the naturalized citizen is accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: "The Boston case exemplifies the sheer naivete of everything that liberals typically gush about immigrants -- they're peace-loving people who become loyal citizens." Usually nativist cranks take some care to disguise the reductive "one bad immigrant means all immigrants are bad" argument that undergirds their xenophobia. De Silva obviously couldn't be bothered.
But it's a curious argument for De Silva, of all people, to make given that later in the piece he reveals that he too is a naturalized American citizen:
I speak on this issue from personal experience. As a naturalized American, I relinquished my native citizenship when I became an American by adhering strictly to the oath of naturalization. It is not your naturalization certificate that makes you an American -- the certificate only makes you a U.S. citizen. Rather, what makes you an American is your unconditional belief this is your country.
Perhaps we should take De Silva at his word that he's a peace-loving and loyal citizen, but just a few paragraphs earlier he called such foolishness "sheer naiveté," and promised to teach us a lesson about the "liberal shibboleth about the loyalty of immigrants." What's an overly credulous liberal who doesn't assume murderous intentions of the foreign-born to do?
Conservative pundit and frequent Fox News guest Ann Coulter complained that the "ethnic composition" of the U.S. is shifting away from European-Americans, due to too much immigration from "the Third World."
In her May 22 blog that Human Events also published, Coulter warned that the immigration reform legislation being debated in the Senate is poised "to turn the country into Mexico," asking why the U.S. can't be "more or less the ethnic composition that it always was":
Why can't the country be more or less the ethnic composition that it always was? The 50-1 Latin American-to-European ratio isn't a natural phenomenon that might result from, say, Europeans losing interest in coming here and poor Latin Americans providing some unique skill desperately needed in our modern, technology-based economy.
To the contrary, it's result of an insane government policy. Teddy Kennedy's 1965 Immigration Act was designed to artificially inflate the number of immigrants from the Third World, while making it virtually impossible for anyone from the nations that historically provided our immigrants to come here.
Pre-1965 immigrants were what made this country what it was for a reason: They were the pre-welfare state immigrants. From around 1630 to 1966, immigrants sank or swam. About a third of them couldn't make it in America and went home -- and those are the ones who weren't rejected right off the boat for being sick, crippled or idiots.
Coulter went on to write "I wouldn't want that many Japanese! I wouldn't want that many Dutch (not that there are that many Dutch)!" before asking if there was "a vote when the country decided to turn itself into Mexico."
This is not the first time Coulter has invoked "Third World" language to fearmonger over U.S. immigration. In a July 18 blog post that Human Events and Free Republic re-ran, she argued that, "Just like California, the United States is on its way to becoming a Third World, one-party state."
From the May 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the May 22 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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From the May 22 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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At least six Fox News contributors have reportedly signed on to an open letter opposing the comprehensive immigration reform legislation currently being debated in the Senate. Fox News, which has admitted it is the "voice of opposition" on certain issues, has long ignored and even fostered such unethical behavior from its personalities.
According to Yahoo! News, conservative radio hosts, along with tea party and other conservative groups, have signed a letter opposing the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, a proposal from a bipartisan group of senators to reform immigration law. Among the "National Conservative Leaders" who have reportedly signed the letter are six current Fox News contributors:
However, their affiliation with Fox News was not mentioned in the letter.
Radio hosts Mark Levin and Lars Larson, who also signed the letter, are regular Fox News guests as well. Daily Beast editor and CNN contributor David Frum also signed the letter.
The letter expresses "serious concerns" with the bill and urges Senators to vote against it:
We oppose this bill and urge you to vote against it when it comes to the Senate floor. No matter how well intentioned, the Schumer-Rubio bill suffers from fundamental design flaws that make it unsalvageable. Many of us support various parts of the legislation, but the overall package is so unsatisfactory that the Senate would do better to start over from scratch.
Reforming our immigration system is an important priority. But S.744 is such a defective measure that it would do more harm than good. We urge you to vote against it and against any cloture vote to bring up the bill. Only then can a constructive, measured debate take place on how to improve America's immigration policy.
The letter also repeats some common myths about immigration, including the debunked notion that granting undocumented immigrants legal status "[h]urts American job-seekers, especially those with less education." The letter also compares the Senate immigration bill to the health care law, calling it "bloated and unwieldy."
Fox News has been criticized for unethical behavior in the past and for operating like a political organization. In fact, Crowley crossed the ethical line during the 2012 presidential election when she spoke at an anti-Obama rally sponsored by the Koch-funded conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.
Fox News has long styled itself as an anti-immigrant network even as it purports to reach out to Latino viewers. Rush Limbaugh, for example, stated in January that it's "up to me and Fox News" to defeat immigration reform. As Yahoo! News noted however, Limbaugh was "notably absent" from the list of signatories.
By all accounts, the Heritage Foundation study that would have been the conservative media's cudgel to defeat comprehensive immigration reform a second time is all but rotting in the ground, buried under accusations of anti-immigrant and race-based bias. Beyond losing all credibility, its conclusions that reform will total at least $6.3 trillion have been exposed as bogus by the most respected conservative groups and immigration experts.
In fact, the only people left willing to defend Heritage are part of an anti-immigrant movement that mainstream conservatives are reportedly trying to confine to the fringe. But that hasn't stopped right-wing media outlets from amplifying these voices in an effort to tank a bipartisan immigration proposal currently being debated in the Senate.
In a column published by WND and Human Events, Pat Buchanan defended Heritage and Jason Richwine, the co-author of the study whose writings that race and intelligence are genetically linked forced his resignation.
As The Washington Post reported, Richwine wrote in his Harvard doctoral dissertation that Latinos are undesirable as immigrants because, he argued, they have lower IQs than white Americans. Other controversial comments by Richwine surfaced, including his claim that "psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, and then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks."
After citing a series of examples he argued showed "greater 'underclass behavior' among Hispanics," Buchanan warned that by granting legal status to the country's population of undocumented immigrants -- most of whom are from Latin American countries -- "America in 2040 is going to look like Los Angeles today." He added: "America in 2040 will be a country with whites and Asians dominating the professions, and 100 million Hispanics concentrated in semiskilled work and manual labor."
In his criticism of the Heritage study, American Action Forum president and former Congressional Budget Office head Doug Holtz-Eakin explained to a congressional committee:
You have to be very careful about the assumptions you make. We know that the labor force participation of first-generation immigrants is higher than the native-born. If you go to the second generation where people often worry about the take-up of public programs -- there are more college degrees in the second-generation immigrants than the native-born. There are more advanced degrees, graduate degrees. There's higher rates of labor force participation among those. So it's not the case that program participation is higher than in the native born population on the whole.
Buchanan has repeatedly stated that the influx of undocumented immigrants is "not immigration" but "an invasion of the United States of America." He has warned that America is "committing suicide" while "Asian, African, And Latin American children come to inherit the estate." He once argued against immigration reform by citing the views of white nationalists.
This is the core group of people who have joined Buchanan in defense of Heritage and Richwine's scholarship. It is basically a "who's who" of the anti-immigrant extremist establishment that continually argues against non-white immigrants and groups:
In his May 14 syndicated column, Pat Buchanan wrote that former Heritage Foundation researcher Jason Richwine "scandalized the Potomac priesthood" with his doctoral dissertation arguing that Hispanic immigrants may never "reach IQ parity with whites." Buchanan then bolstered Richwine's work by citing examples of what he called "underclass behavior" by Hispanics:
The 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, which measures the academic ability of 15-year-olds worldwide, found the U.S.A. falling to 17th in reading, 23rd in science, 31st in math.
Yet, Spain aside, not one Hispanic nation, from which a plurality of our immigrants come, was among the top 40 in reading, science or math.
But these folks are going to come here and make us No. 1 again?
Is there greater "underclass behavior" among Hispanics?
The crime rate among Hispanics is about three times that of white Americans, while the Asian crime rate is about a third that of whites.
Among white folks, the recent illegitimacy rate was 28 percent; among Hispanics, 53 percent. According to one study a few years back, Hispanics were 19 times as likely as whites to join gangs.
If our huge bloc of Hispanics, already America's largest minority at 53 million, is fed by constant new immigration, but fails for a couple of generations to reach the middle-class status that Irish, Germans, Jews, Italians and Poles attained after two generations, what becomes of our "indivisible" nation?
Rather than face this question, better to purge and silence the Harvard extremist who dared to raise it.
Late Friday, after the Heritage Foundation reportedly considered seeking the counsel of an outside PR firm to deal with damage to their brand, researcher Jason Richwine, who coauthored the deeply flawed immigration report pushed by the right-wing think tank, resigned his position.
His error seemingly had nothing to do with the poor quality of that document, exemplified by the bipartisan, panideological critiques of the study, as his coauthor Robert Rector is seemingly still employed at Heritage.
Richwine's offense seems to have taken place in 2009 when he offered up a doctoral dissertation arguing, as The Washington Post's Dylan Matthews wrote, that due to the "deep-set differentials in intelligence between races," Richwine wrote that Hispanic immigrants may never "reach IQ parity with whites." His interest in the linkage between race and IQ was not unknown. Richwine also spoke about that linkage on a 2008 panel at the American Enterprise Institute promoting Mark Krikorian's book The New Case Against Immigration: Both Legal and Illegal. It was on this panel Richwine proclaimed "Race is different in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ."
The year of his dissertation defense his work was cited in a New York Times "Idea of the Day" column focusing on Robert Putnam's controversial finding that "ethnic diversity isn't an unqualified good."
There is no plausible way Heritage was unaware of Richwine's beliefs when they hired him, as he has made no attempts to obscure them. Heritage distanced itself from the dissertation after it came to public light, but it's completely unimaginable for a recent Ph.D to be hired by a major think tank without inquiry into such a crucial facet of their past research. These views are flawed -- they are misguided -- they are not grounded in research -- but they were not a secret.
And why should they be? The Bell Curve author and AEI scholar Charles Murray has made a successful career at conservative think tanks evangelizing the flawed notion that differences in IQ among racial groups should drive public policy decisions, ignoring the underlying reasons for the disparity and dismissing research demonstrating IQ and outcome are not linked.
Murray stood up for his ideological protégé following the latter's resignation, tweeting "Thank God I was working for Chris DeMuth and AEI, not Jim DeMint and Heritage, when The Bell Curve was published. Integrity. Loyalty. Balls."
The paleoconservative mindset is no longer as central to the conservative movement as it once was. Yet Pat Buchanan's removal from his permanent post on the couch in the MSNBC greenroom has not excised these ideas from the conservative movement.
Richwine's resignation allows him to become a scapegoat for an ideology that is still perfectly acceptable inside the conservative movement and the right-wing media. If Richwine's focus on the IQs of Hispanic populations is unacceptable, then so is Charles Murray's focus on the African American community. So are those of the godfather of the entire anti-immigrant movement John Tanton, who "wrote a paper titled The Case for Passive Eugenics."
Rush Limbaugh defended Richwine's racial tests on his program, proclaiming: "So, now it's trash the messenger time." He went on to say "You're not suppose to bring that kind of stuff up. You're not supposed to talk about it. It's not politically correct, even if it's true. You're not supposed to bring it up."
Michelle Malkin attacked those who dare point to the fundamentally racist nature of Richwine's dissertation. writing at Townhall.com: "The smug dismissal of Richwine's credentials and scholarship is to be expected by liberal hacks and clown operatives."
Richwine resigned after doing the job he was hired to do and for views his employer must have known him to hold. He was the most junior member of the group of conservative researchers who have spent their careers producing questionable studies about race. And because he was the lowest in the hierarchy he was the easiest to cast aside.
Charles Murray is right. This move lacked integrity, for that would require a widespread condemnation of the flawed racial theories peddled in the conservative movement and the "respected" think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute that allow them to flourish. I doubt that is forthcoming, making Heritage's decision to accept Jason Richwine's resignation an act of craven political cowardice.
UPDATE: Slate's David Weigel reports that Jason Richwine has resigned from Heritage.
The Heritage Foundation is reportedly considering hiring a public relations firm to manage the fallout over the disastrous launch of its shoddy, heavily criticized immigration report. Compounding problems for the right-wing think tank was the revelation that the co-author of its report has argued that Hispanic immigrants are undesirable because they allegedly have lower IQs than white Americans. The media shouldn't be fooled: no amount of PR money can hide that one of Heritage's lead immigration analysts holds deeply offensive racial views, and has also tied himself and Heritage to a network of extremist and nativist anti-immigrant groups.
The Washington Post's Dylan Matthews reported this week that Jason Richwine, who co-authored Heritage's recently released immigration report, wrote in a 2009 dissertation that Hispanic immigrants have a lower IQ than white Americans, and the "prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against."
Richwine's offensive remarks about IQ and immigrants are part of a troubling anti-Hispanic immigrant pattern throughout his relatively short think tank career.
From the May 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show: