Heritage immigration report co-author argued Hispanics are ‘low-IQ’ immigrants

Updated
An woman takes the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the at district office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on...
An woman takes the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the at district office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on...
John Moore/Getty Images

A much-awaited study by The Heritage foundation was blasted by Democrats and prominent conservative organizations alike, after it calculated the cost of undocumented immigrants becoming citizens would be $6.3 trillion.

Now a 2009 dissertation by the co-author of the study, Jason Richwine, has surfaced, which shows he believes many immigrants have low-IQ’s—particularly singling out Hispanic immigrants—and they should be kept out of the country.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

He also identified Hispanic immigrants as the target of his low-IQ theories.

“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,” he added.

Reyna Guerra-Vega. a DREAMer and deferred action recipient who graduated with honors from Arizona State University, says many like her are evidence that Richwine’s comments are wildly out-of-bounds.

“This is extremely discouraging,” she says. “Plenty of studies have shown that immigrants have a positive outcome economically and socially as well. There are education gaps but those change over time.”

Jeff Hauser, with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), says these beliefs show why Heritage is really against immigration reform.

“The fact that heritage sought out and hired a bigot who thinks Latinos have a lower IQ than non-Latinos is offensive,” he says. “The one thing that comes out of it is it rips the veil off of Heritage and makes clear that their opposition to immigration reform is based on bigotry rather than policy.”

Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), agreed.

“If immigration was based on IQ levels, the U.S. would be a society in danger of extinction,” he says. ”It is absolutely reprehensible for The Heritage Foundation to replace real solutions with conjectures and blatantly attack recent immigrants.”

Mike Gonzalez, vice president of communications for The Heritage Foundation, issued a statement regarding Richwine’s writings Wednesday afternoon.

“This is not a work product of The Heritage Foundation. Its findings in no way reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation. Nor do the findings affect the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to the U.S. taxpayer.”


The reaction from Latinos and non-Latinos across social media was swift in condemning Richwine.

Well that escalated to racism pretty quicklythinkprogress.org/immigration/20…

— Kombiz Lavasany (@kombiz) May 8, 2013

Heritage Foundation researcher says we should select #immigration by IQ. No calls to deport “low-IQ” citizens. wapo.st/18Y7Eg2 #p2

— Raul M. Grijalva (@RepRaulGrijalva) May 8, 2013


Richwine himself knew that his terminology was problematic and encouraged others to use the right language to advance these ideas.

He cautioned against referring to it as immigrants with low-IQ in favor of the term “skill-based,” which would “blunt the negative reaction.”

NBCLatino reached out to Mr. Richwine for comment but did not receive a response as of this writing.

A version of this post first appeared at NBC Latino.

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Heritage immigration report co-author argued Hispanics are 'low-IQ' immigrants

Updated