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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "Immigration Policy"

Right-Wing Think Tank's Racist Report Distorts Prospects for Immigrants' Future

May 16, 2013 ·

A study by the Heritage Foundation maintained that Hispanic immigrants are deficient in I.Q. and thus disposed to rely on "government handouts."

Jason Richwine, who just resigned from the Heritage Foundation.In 2007 the Heritage Foundation played a major role in derailing immigration reform. This year it tried to replicate its success by publishing a study claiming that unlawful immigration and amnesty would cost U.S. tax payers approximately $6.3 trillion dollars. However, their ploy to sabotage immigration reform failed in dramatic fashion. Not only were their exaggerated estimates on the cost of amnesty resoundingly refuted by both conservative and liberal groups, but their entire report appeared to hinge on a premise that reeked of racism.

According to the Heritage Foundation’s study, one of the primary reasons immigration reform would cost so much is that a typical undocumented immigrant lacks adequate education. And poorly educated individuals, according to the study, “are net tax consumers: the benefits they receive exceed the taxes they pay.”

This notion of the undocumented being “poorly educated” comes directly from Jason Richwine, one of the coauthors of the study. Richwine got his Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University, where he wrote a dissertation titled IQ and Immigration Policy. In it he claims that Hispanics have on average lower IQs than their Caucasian counterparts. Moreover, he writes, “[n]o 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.” In other words, Hispanics will probably never be as smart as white people.

Richwine goes on to say that the IQ disparity between the two races explains why Hispanics have never been able to fully assimilate into American culture and why they are more likely to accept government handouts: “When given the choice between a paycheck from a low-paying job and a welfare check, most intelligent people would realize that the welfare check offers them no potential for advancement. Low-IQ people do not internalize that fact nearly as well.”

There you have it: Hispanics are dumb. Dumb people rely more on government handouts. Therefore, Hispanics will use more government handouts than the average citizen and as a result they will drain the government of its resources. Keep them out!

To the Heritage Foundation’s credit, it is a straightforward argument.

Nevertheless, the argument is horribly flawed. This year Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college at higher rates than whites. There is a substantial income gap between whites and Hispanics, but each successive generation of Hispanics continues to narrow this gap. No to mention the fact that Hispanics have served in almost every U.S. war and have received 44 Medals of Honor, the third most for any ethnic group. Not bad for a people who failed to “assimilate.”

Despite the fact that the Heritage Foundation’s study is faulty at best and racist at worst, it’s still hugely informative. The study offers a genuine glimpse of what many, especially on the right, think about Hispanics. Many Hispanics, including this writer, have generally felt that opposition to immigration reform does not stem from some intellectual argument, but from visceral emotions driven by xenophobia. The study produced by the Heritage Foundation has proven this point to be correct.

Luckily, the Heritage Foundation is in the minority. According to a CNN/ORC international survey, 84% percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

America is known as the melting pot of the world. Immigrants from across the globe call this place their home. The notion pushed by the Heritage Foundation that Hispanic immigrants need to assimilate is not only paradoxical but also deeply offensive. America is a country that embraces immigrants and all the diversity that comes with them; it doesn’t assimilate them into a homogenous stew. E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. Most Americans seem to understand this, even if the Heritage Foundation does not.

Javier Rojo is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.


Organizing Against Arizona's Immigration Law

July 22, 2010 ·

We Will Not ComplyArizona is expected to begin enforcement of SB1070 on July 29th unless President Obama succeeds in suing the state to prevent the law from being implemented. While the Justice Department is acting on the grounds that Arizona’s appropriation of immigration authority from the federal government violates the supremacy clause, groups around the country say local immigration enforcement endangers the health and safety of Arizona families. 

Enforcement of SB1070 practically requires racial profiling and discrimination, leaving people of color vulnerable to harassment and abuse at the hands of police and racist individuals emboldened by the legislation. We predict that if SB1070 is allowed and similar laws follow, many survivors of crimes like human trafficking, worker exploitation, domestic violence, and sexual assault won't be able to tolerate the risk of coming forward to seek help. 

Control of identity documents and immigration-based threats are commonly reported in investigations of human trafficking. Over the last 10 years, clients of the Break the Chain Campaign at IPS (BTCC), have reported threats like “if you run away, you will be deported,” or “the police hate immigrants, they will go after you,” or simply “you are illegal here, so you do not have rights.” When these threats are reinforced through well-publicized laws like SB1070 and the federal 287(g) program, they become irrefutable fact.  

Even before SB1070, victims' advocates and social workers have been struggling with law enforcement protocol that takes a punitive approach to dealing with undocumented victims. Countless survivors of heinous crimes have been arrested, detained, and questioned before receiving trauma counseling and emergency services, and unknown numbers have already been deported. While much progress has been made in training law enforcement to better identify and protect potential victims, an overall lack of training is one of the biggest problems for most social service advocates in the field. How will SB1070, which forces police to act (though at least one officer has already come forward to resist), affect this progress?  

Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, an outspoken critic of SB1070, held an ad-hoc hearing in June. There, 10-year-old Katherine tearfully recalled the experience of being separated from her family:

It was very hard for me every time I went to school. I kept thinking that maybe I would see my parents when I got back home. I would also have bad dreams where the deputies would take my aunt, her family, and me to jail. I’m still afraid of the deputies. We went to the hospital to visit a relative and I saw deputies and I did not want to go in.

The hearing was spearheaded by a coalition that included BTCC, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, The National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON), Legal Momentum, Jobs with Justice, the 9to5 National Association of Working Women, and the AFL-CIO.  

On July 15th, these groups and others convened a follow-up “National Women and Children’s Advocacy Day." At this hearing, Dr. Carola Suárez-Orozco, representing the American Psychological Association, referenced an Urban Institute report on the detrimental effects of immigration enforcement: 

The report indicates that the vast majority of children whose parents were detained in ICE raids in the workplace and in the home exhibited multiple behavioral changes in the aftermath of parental detention, including anxiety, frequent crying, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, withdrawal, and anger. Such behavioral changes were documented both two to three months after the arrest, as well as at a nine-month follow-up. Disturbingly, the children also experienced dramatic increases in housing instability and food insecurity, which are both dimensions of basic well-being. 

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who also attended the July hearing, introduced the HELP Separated Children Act, which ensures “parental rights of immigrant women are protected and the risk of family separation is reduced during immigrant enforcement.” The coalition joined dozens of women's groups in urging Congress to support this act. 

Now we're organizing around the country to plan actions before July 29 against SB1070. Join us!

Or call your representatives. Ask them to consider the impact of immigration enforcement on children like Katherine, and support the HELP Separated Children Act.