This rhetorical question has a clear answer in my head–no. But the rhetoric during last year’s Republican primaries and the election, as well as Congress’ current immigration bill debate, is sending a message to Latinos that “we don’t want you.”
The latest “confirmation” is conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation’s latest study which argues against the proposed immigration legislation because of a $6.3 trillion dollar cost to American tax payers.
A reporter did some digging and discovered that the study’s co-author, who has since resigned in the face of public outrage, wrote a dissertation (which you can read in full by clicking here) where he makes race-based arguments favoring IQ-based immigration. About Latinos, we are stupid for generations, according to this much quoted excerpt:
“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.”
More on Heritage study co-author Jason Richwine’s views (no apologies, either) from the metaphorical horse’s mouth while a research fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Click here to watch more Richwine videos flagged by Politic365.
To be clear, this is not a report commissioned, along with its co-author, by the Republican party. However, the Heritage Foundation which in the past has bolstered GOP policy positions, lent credibility to what most people, including mainstream conservatives, consider fringe views. Does the buck stop, not with Richwine who “resigned” but his co-author, senior researcher Robert Rector who has years of policy papers under his belt? Should responsibility rest at the top with the think tank’s chief–former South Carolina senator James DeMint?
The biggest loser isn’t Heritage but the GOP because of its real and imagined close association with this think tank. With the exception of Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, my inbox and Twitter feed are not exploding with criticism disavowing these extremist views that seem to underpin the immigration report and which overlook data that proves Latinos are as generationally upwardly mobile, if not more, than previous waves of immigrants. How does the party square its silence after launching a very public outreach campaign as a result of the beating it took in November from minority voters?
Silence is complicity and leaves Hispanics to believe that this is how Republicans view us–as a bunch of stupid “takers” that form part of the 47% who voted for President Obama.
Latino voters don’t forget as I write in “Heritage Immigration Report: Small Latino Brains and Long Political Memory.” Despite the bruising election which spurred minority outreach, Republicans don’t seem to understand that because of the growth of our electorate, the road to the White House and governor mansions goes through America’s barrios, bodegas, and our public schools which are 25% Hispanic.
I suggest the GOP message machine begin relentlessly filling my inbox, not only with emails of Benghazi and the IRS controversies, but with a full-throated public flogging and rejection of this report and its views; with sensible improvements to the current immigration bill; and concrete policies on job creation and improving our education system. Latinos have heard carefully crafted words about inclusion. Show these voters that there is a place for them in the heart of the party through substance.
This is what wins hearts, minds, and elections.
This post is part of the original The Wise Latina Club series “Anatomy of an Immigration Debate” which analyze the charged political and social context of this debate within the context of the extraordinary demographic changes confirmed by the 2010 U.S. Census. Click here to read previous entries.