Editor's Note: On Friday, May 10, the Heritage Foundation, which earlier distanced itself from the controversial views of its senior policy analyst Jason Richwine, said Richwine had resigned from the foundation, according to Politico.
Jason Richwine, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, is attracting attention because of a recently released anti-immigration study that is garnering criticism from fellow conservatives, including U.S. Rep. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and anti-tax warrior Grover Norquist. The study, co-authored with Heritage fellow Robert Rector, is a reprise of Rector’s 2007 report (which was also criticized) for the foundation. Both studies claim immigration reform will cost the U.S. trillions of dollars, and both were hotly disputed.
The conservative criticism of the new study charges that it ignores immigrants’ upward mobility and suggests that they will always be poor. But in addition to that, a great deal of criticism from other quarters is now focusing personally on Richwine and what he has said over the years about immigrants, race and intelligence.
As the Washington Post notes, Richwine’s 2009 doctoral dissertation at Harvard makes the claim that there are deep differences in intelligence between races, and that there may be a genetic component to those differences, which, he argues, are persistent over time. He wrote that, “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.” What does that mean with regard to immigration into the U.S.? Richwine argues for simply testing the IQ of those who want to immigrate, excluding those with lower scores.
That wasn’t the first time he’s made statements like that. Five years ago, Hatewatch noted that when Richwine was a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) earlier in 2008, he also compared the intelligence of earlier, mainly white settlers favorably to later, mostly Latino ones. “The argument that immigrants themselves are no different from the ones that came 100 years ago I think is quite wrong,” Richwine said in a discussion at AEI that aired on C-SPAN, “and I think that the major difference here is ethnicity — or race, if you will. Races differ in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ.”
He further claimed that there is a “hierarchy of IQ,” with Jews at the top followed in descending order by East Asians, non-Jewish whites, Hispanics and blacks. “Group differences in ability,” Richwine said in comments common among opponents of multiculturalism, “combined with a natural tribal disposition, is going to create, usually, parallel cultures within a multiracial society rather than an assimilated culture,” which is “a major, major obstacle to the assimilation of today’s immigrants, because they are not from Europe which is, I think, a major difference.”
Not surprisingly, his 2008 remarks were warmly received by white nationalist blogs. Many of Richwine’s essays (see, for example, here and here) have been posted on white nationalist sites since then, like American Renaissance and VDARE.
Richwine’s co-author on the new report, Robert Rector, has also received criticism in the past about his claims regarding immigration. In 2006, Rector released a report at the Heritage Foundation that claimed that almost 200 million people would enter the U.S. over the course of 20 years if the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill then under consideration passed. Demographers quickly pointed out the absurdity of Rector’s claims. Two hundred million people is nearly the entire population of Mexico and Central America. Nevertheless, within 24 hours of the release of Rector’s report, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the bill to sharply limit guest worker programs. Rector has also pushed the claim that immigrants drive up welfare costs, something that many economists and scholars dispute. Regarding the current immigration reform bill, Rector admitted that he had not “examined the whole bill yet” but if it looks like previous bills, it will create “a massive influx of even more unskilled workers.”
Later, the Daily Beast noted that Richwine used as a source in his dissertation the work of the late psychology professor, J. Philippe Rushton, who was a former president of the white nationalist Pioneer Fund, a eugenicist organization founded in 1937. The group strives to “improve the character of the American people” through eugenics and procreation by people of white colonial stock. According to the Daily Beast, Richwine borrowed from Rushton’s work to argue that there is a genetic component to group differences in IQ, claiming that the differentials between races “places the average black at roughly the 16th percentile of the white IQ distribution.”