Heritage Can't Spin Away Its Anti-Hispanic Immigrant Author

UPDATE: Slate's David Weigel reports that Jason Richwine has resigned from Heritage.

The Heritage Foundation is reportedly considering hiring a public relations firm to manage the fallout over the disastrous launch of its shoddy, heavily criticized immigration report. Compounding problems for the right-wing think tank was the revelation that the co-author of its report has argued that Hispanic immigrants are undesirable because they allegedly have lower IQs than white Americans. The media shouldn't be fooled: no amount of PR money can hide that one of Heritage's lead immigration analysts holds deeply offensive racial views, and has also tied himself and Heritage to a network of extremist and nativist anti-immigrant groups.

The Washington Post's Dylan Matthews reported this week that Jason Richwine, who co-authored Heritage's recently released immigration report, wrote in a 2009 dissertation that Hispanic immigrants have a lower IQ than white Americans, and the “prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”

Richwine's offensive remarks about IQ and immigrants are part of a troubling anti-Hispanic immigrant pattern throughout his relatively short think tank career.

Richwine On CSPAN: Blacks And Hispanics Have Lower IQs. As Media Matters noted, Richwine argued during a July 2008 CSPAN appearance that considering race “is important” when discussing immigration policy because “there are real differences between groups ... Races differ in all sorts of ways, and probably the most important way is in IQ. Decades of psychometric testing has indicated that at least in America, you have Jews with the highest average IQ, usually followed by East Asians, and then you have non-Jewish whites, Hispanics, and then blacks. These are real differences.”

Richwine later suggested that European immigrants are the most preferable immigrants.

“I think it would be a lot healthier to discuss this issue, the racial issue, here, because, look, I mean, it's here, it's not going away, and we can't wish it away. I do not believe that race is insurmountable, certainly not, but it is definitely a larger barrier today than it was for immigrants in the past simply because they are not from Europe,” Richwine said.

CUNY sociology professor Richard Alba told Mother Jones' Adam Serwer that Richwine's remarks were “appalling” and inaccurate. The Sothern Poverty Law Center, which noted Richwine's remarks in 2009, also pointed out factual problems with Richwine's IQ analysis.

In a Heritage paper, Richwine argued against the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program because it “grants green cards to large portions of the world that have no history of immigration to the U.S., thus increasing the ethnic and cultural heterogeneity of the nation. Chart 1 indicates that more than three-quarters of lottery winners obtaining green cards in fiscal year 2010 were born in Africa or Asia, compared to fewer than one in five from Europe.” 

Richwine Penned Articles For “Nationalist” Site And Characterized Hispanics As More Criminal Than Whites. Yahoo!'s Chris Moody noted that Richwine wrote two articles in 2010 for a website “founded by Richard Spencer, a self-described 'nationalist' who writes frequently about race and against 'the abstract notion of human equality.'” Moody reported:

Richwine's articles for AlternativeRight.com, "Model Minority?," published on March 3, 2010, and "More on Hispanics and Crime," published the next day, push back on an American Conservative essay that argued that some conservatives have over-hyped the crime rate among Hispanics. (Richwine's article was cross-posted on the website of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington where Richwine was previously a fellow.)

“A proper analysis of the data indicates that Hispanics have a substantially higher crime rate than whites,” Richwine wrote in the first piece, which he backed up with federal prison data showing the incarceration rates of whites and Hispanics.

Richwine Has Tied Himself To Anti-Immigrant Nativists. In addition to placing articles on a “nationalist” website, Richwine has also attached himself and Heritage to John Tanton's network of anti-immigrant nativists.

Tanton, according to the SPLC, “is the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement. He created a network of organizations - the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA - that have profoundly shaped the immigration debate in the United States. A retired Michigan ophthalmologist, Tanton has white nationalist beliefs and has written that to maintain American culture, 'a European-American majority' is required."

Richwine has spoken at two events for The Social Contract Press, which is published by Tanton. In both instances, Richwine was identified as working for the Heritage Foundation. Richwine's 2010 speech was characterized by the group as being about the “myth of immigrant crime” and arguing that “immigrant and illegal alien crime is higher than crime committed by other demographic groups.” Richwine's 2012 speech touched on similar anti-Hispanic immigrant topics. The Anti-Defamation League criticized Richwine's speech, writing:

This annual work­shop often fea­tures racist speak­ers, includ­ing Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigrant web­site VDARE, and Wayne Lut­ton, edi­tor of The Social Con­tract (TSC), a jour­nal pub­lished by TSCP.  Rich­wine spoke at the Writ­ers Work­shop in 2010 and 2012. At the 2010 con­fer­ence he claimed to be an attendee “for a few years” and iden­ti­fied him­self as “a restric­tion­ist.” At the same event, Rich­wine par­tic­i­pated in a debate with con­ser­v­a­tive author Ron Unz on the issue of white ver­sus His­panic crime rates. Rich­wine argued that the rate of crimes com­mit­ted by His­pan­ics is much higher than that of whites.

In 2012, the same year Peter Brimelow addressed the event, Rich­wine talked about cul­tural dif­fer­ences between the Euro­pean immi­grants who came to the U.S. before the 1965 Immi­gra­tion Act and the His­panic immi­grants who came to this coun­try post-1965. He argued that when we talk about immi­gra­tion “cul­ture is the over­rid­ing con­cern.” Later in his speech, Rich­wine spoke about the dif­fer­ences in appear­ances between His­pan­ics and whites, claim­ing “His­panic immi­grants usu­ally look dis­tinctly non-white.” He said he did not “cel­e­brate the fact that this should mat­ter,” but added that “the real­ity is that sub­con­sciously humans are a tribal species.”

Politico reported that “Heritage's efforts to get traction for its immigration report could be hampered, [a Republican operative] said, if it gets lumped in with groups like FAIR, NumbersUSA or CIS, which are considered pure opposition to the immigration reform effort.” Of course, Richwine has already lumped himself and Heritage in with those groups with his speeches to Tanton's network as a Heritage analyst.

Heritage Claims Co-Author Richwine Just Did “Number Crunching,” Yet Sent Him On A Media Tour To Promote Report. In response to strong criticism from both sides of the aisle, Heritage released a statement appearing to distance itself from Richwine's views. The organization wrote, in part:

We welcome a rigorous, fact-based debate on the data, methodology, and conclusions of the Heritage study on the cost of amnesty. Instead, some have pointed to a Harvard dissertation written by Dr. Jason Richwine. Dr. Richwine did not shape the methodology or the policy recommendations in the Heritage paper; he provided quantitative support to lead author Robert Rector. The dissertation was written while Dr. Richwine was a student at Harvard, supervised and approved by a committee of respected scholars.

As BuzzFeed noted, during an interview on Univision America, Heritage communications vice president Mike Gonzalez declined to comment on whether they would fire Richwine, and “downplayed Richwine's role in the foundation's immigration research, saying he just did 'the number crunching' on Heritage's immigration study.”

Though Heritage may now view its report co-author as just a “number crunch[er],” Heritage still sent Richwine on a media tour to promote their report prior to the anti-Hispanic revelations. For instance on May 7, Richwine represented Heritage in radio interviews on WJR, KABC, WPTF, WFLA (via TVEyes), KTSA (via TVEyes), KSL (via TVEyes), KBAL (via TVEyes), and Radio America. Richwine also did a May 8 morning interview with WLS.

Richwine didn't appear to downplay his contributions during an interview on WJR, stating “we spent so much time working on” the report and “before it had even come out, I felt like I had already been debating” critics.

ABC News reported today that its “attempts to reach Richwine were unsuccessful.”