The heart of the immigration matter

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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., center, speaks as immigration reform legislation as outlined by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" that would create a path...
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., center, speaks as immigration reform legislation as outlined by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" that would create a path...
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The immigration debate is filled with economics but eventually it becomes purely emotional—the idea that we should be humane to foreigners as we have in the past as a nation on a hill welcoming the poor, huddled masses versus the idea that we must protect America and some essential Americanness from the castoffs of other nations.

That emotional debate exploded after a widely questioned economic report by the Heritage Foundation which used a curious methodology to assert that immigration reform will cost us trillions. That report was co-authored by one Jason Richwine, a Harvard PhD, whose 2009 dissertation spoke of genetic differences in intellect between Hispanic immigrants and native white Americans.  “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.” It is? Um, let’s see.

Race is not a biological reality, it’s a social construct so there’s no genetic reason why anyone’s IQ would predict their kids’s IQ. But let’s not get bogged down with logic and stuff. This sort of endlessly debunked biological determinism is the root of eugenics, which is the handmaiden of racial superiority. Are we really still talking about ingrained superable differences in races in the 21st century? I say “we” because, even though Richwine resigned from Heritage, not fired, he has been defended by Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, and other conservatives.

You might say: “Hey! With friends like that, who needs enemies?”, but by defending the Richwine crap they embolden people to believe it, as if we’re just the PC police for calling it what it is—racism. They’re also signaling to Hispanic Americans that we don’t really want them in America.

The Heritage report that started this chapter was designed to either cover for Republicans who want to vote against immigration reform or force some others to be unable to vote for it because of the impact of disinformation on the voters and media.

Several prominent Republicans have repudiated the Heritage report—including Paul Ryan, who points out the CBO says immigration reform could help our economy grow. Indeed, many economists have explained that legalizing 11 million people, thus boosting their wages, thus boosting what they pay in taxes and spend as consumers, would be a massive stimulus. And that’s just low-skilled immigrants.

We know high-skilled immigrants have already revolutionized Silicon Valley, but they are clearly not the source of the irrational fear that some critical part of America will be lost by allowing in too many people from other countries.

The immigrants from Mexico and Cuba and Latin America will surely become one of us and make this nation better culturally and economically just as those from Europe and Asia did. We need not fear expanding the American family, we will make them Americans and they will help us, because Americanness is too powerful to resist. We need only fear those who seek to inspire fear of the future and throw mud into important discussions. Immigrants of all classes will help America. We would be better off embracing them and maybe deporting the fearmongers.

The heart of the immigration matter

Updated