Conservative Immigration Scholar: Black and Hispanic Immigrants Are Dumber Than European Immigrants

Mother Jones

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Jason Richwine, the co-author of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s controversial study on the supposed $6.3 trillion cost of comprehensive immigration reform, has received much attention and criticism for his 2009 Harvard University dissertation that argued there was “a genetic component” to racial disparities in IQ. But this dissertation wasn’t the first time Richwine had expressed such views publicly. In 2008, he told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that “major” ethnic or racial differences in intelligence between the Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants who flocked to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and the immigrants coming to the US today justified severely restricting immigration.

Richwine’s remarks, which he made as a resident fellow at AEI, did not receive much public notice at the time, but they go beyond the arguments presented in his 2009 dissertation. In that dissertation, “IQ and Immigration Policy,” which was first reported by Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post, Richwine argued for restricting immigration based on IQ differences, which he believes are partially the result of genetic differences between ethnic groups. In the dissertation’s acknowledgements, Richwine wrote that “no one was more influential” than AEI scholar Charles Murray, co-author of the much-criticized book The Bell Curve, which argued that racial disparities in IQ are partially the result of genetic differences between races. After the Post broke the story about the dissertation, the Heritage Foundation distanced itself from Richwine’s immigration reform study.

At the 2008 talk, Richwine said, “I do not believe that race is insurmountable, certainly not, but it definitely is a larger barrier today than it was for immigrants in the past simply because they are not from Europe.” The 2008 AEI panel focused on a book by immigration reform opponent Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors strict limits on all immigration. Krikorian’s book, The New Case Against Immigration, Both Legal and Illegal, began with Krikorian stating that the difference between modern immigration and immigration at the turn of the century “is not the characteristics of the newcomers but the characteristics of our society.”

Richwine firmly disagreed with part of Krikorian’s assessment. The “major difference,” he said, was the race of the immigrants: “There are real differences between groups.” He contended that today’s non-white immigrants are dumber. “Race is different in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ,” he said. “Decades of psychometric testing, has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics and then blacks. These are real differences, and they’re not going to go away tomorrow, and for that reason we have to address them in our immigration discussions and our debates.”

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Conservative Immigration Scholar: Black and Hispanic Immigrants Are Dumber Than European Immigrants

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