Malicious numbers

It is an attempt to kill immigration reform with biased studies

Mono Editorial
Mono Editorial
Foto: authors

In 2007, a Heritage Foundation study about the cost of immigration marked the beginning of the end of an effort to legalize undocumented immigrants. This year, the study center repeated its strategy to try to derail comprehensive immigration reform. However, this time the reaction has been different, reflecting better possibilities for the passage of an immigration bill.

A recent Heritage study showed that legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants will cost $6.3 trillion over the next 50 years. Unlike years ago, when the organization said it would cost $2 billion, now Republican and conservative groups have harshly criticized this analysis.

The new report, like the previous one, selectively handles information to achieve a particular result. In this case, in order to arrive at the desired deficit amount, economic projections needed to be extended to half a century. No one in Washington believes in 10-year projections, much less in 50-year ones.

On the other hand, the study’s credibility and impartiality are questionable, since one of its authors, Jason Richwine, claimed in his doctoral dissertation that today’s immigrants are less intelligent than the average white native. In his 2009 dissertation, Richwine said immigration negatively impacts the economy because it perpetuates low IQs in future generations. The absurdities we have to hear from opponents of the overhaul!

The report was intended to poison the climate for the legislative Senate hearings that began yesterday. Nevertheless, the one who ended up contaminated was Heritage, both because of its malicious numbers and the ideas of at least one of the study’s authors.

Many analyses of the economic impact of regularizing the undocumented are available, and they show various figures. The consensus of the majority is that bringing the undocumented into the formal economy will increase tax collection, and that their presence will rejuvenate the workforce that will pay for the retirement of the baby boomer generation.

The numbers of the Heritage Foundation’s studies are as ill-intended today as before. The good thing is that there has been enough water under the bridge to at least—so far—not derail the first steps of a comprehensive immigration reform.