A talk with Jason Richwine: 'I do not apologize for any of my work'
May 13, 2013 | 4:22 pm
Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner
"It seemed like that day lasted forever," says Jason Richwine of last Wednesday, when he found himself in the middle of a media firestorm over his writings about Hispanic immigrants and intelligence. "I knew that this probably would not end well."
It didn't. On Friday morning, the 31 year-old scholar resigned from the Heritage Foundation, where he had co-authored the new report, "The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer." The paper, released last Monday and written largely by Heritage scholar Robert Rector, argued that Hispanic immigrants to the United States, most of them low-skill, end up costing the government more in benefits than they pay in taxes. It was an explosive entry into the debate over the comprehensive immigration reform measure currently being considered in the Senate. By the time of its release, reform advocates on the left and right had already published a number of "prebuttals" arguing that Rector and Richwine had it all wrong, that in fact immigration would be a net benefit in years to come.
Heritage expected that debate. What it did not expect was the firestorm that broke out Wednesday morning when a liberal Washington Post blogger posted an article titled, "Heritage study co-author opposed letting in immigrants with low IQs." The blogger, Dylan Matthews, wrote that Richwine, who earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 2009, had written a dissertation, "IQ and Immigration Policy," which argued that on average immigrants to the U.S., particularly Hispanic immigrants, have lower IQ scores than "the white native population." Admitting immigrants with higher IQs, Richwine argued, would be a better immigration policy than admitting low-IQ newcomers.
The reaction was immediate and harsh. "The Heritage Foundation's immigration guru wasn't just racist -- he's wrong," wrote the Atlantic. "Ugly racism and xenophobia dressed up in economic hyperbole," said the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "You have someone who is a racist, obviously, right?" asked a Univision anchor of a Heritage spokesman.
Heritage quickly tried to put some distance between itself and its scholar. "The Harvard paper is not a work product of the Heritage Foundation," communications vice president Mike Gonzalez said in a statement. "Its findings do not reflect the positions of the Heritage Foundation or the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to U.S. taxpayers, as race and ethnicity are not part of Heritage immigration policy recommendations."
Richwine knew he was in trouble the minute the first story broke. "The accusation of racism is one of the worst things that anyone can call you in public life," he says. "Once that word is out there, it's very difficult to recover from it, even when it is completely untrue."
Read the whole thing there.