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Heritage distances itself from scholar's claim about Hispanic immigrants

The conservative Heritage Foundation is distancing itself from a 2009 dissertation by one of its scholars suggesting that Hispanic immigrants will have "low-IQ children and grandchildren."

Jason Richwine, a co-author of a  Heritage study released this week that pegged the cost of offering a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants at $6.3 trillion, wrote in a Harvard University report that the allowance of low-IQ immigrants into the American population results in "a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market."

Particularly inflammatory in his dissertation – first reported by the Washington Post – is his assertion that IQ has a genetic basis that will persist among generations of new Hispanic immigrants as well. 

“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,” Richwine wrote.

In a statement, Heritage Foundation spokesman Mike Gonzales said that Richwine’s dissertation does not reflect the values of the think tank, which is working to defeat key parts of the compromise immigration legislation set to be reviewed by a Senate committee later this week. 

“This is not a work product of The Heritage Foundation.  Its findings in no way reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation,” Gonzalez said in an email statement. “Nor do the findings affect the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to the U.S. taxpayer.”

Gonzalez said in a separate statement that Richwine "did not shape the methodology or the policy recommendations" in the cost report released this week and that he provided only "quantitative support" to lead author Robert Rector. 

"We believe that every person is created equal and that everyone should have equal opportunity to reach the ladder of success and climb as high as they can dream," Gonzalez wrote. 

Heritage scholars Richwine and Rector released a report Monday estimating that the cost of allowing undocumented immigrants to become citizens – a process that would take a minimum of 13 years – would over time cost the government trillions of dollars because of the likelihood that the new citizens would be dependent on federal benefits. 

While hailed by some opponents of reform, other conservatives -- from the Cato Institute to the U.S. Senate – ridiculed the estimate as the product of political doctoring that failed to take into account the contributions immigrants make to the American economy. 

Sen. Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants and a key voice on the immigration reform effort, lambasted that report as “flawed.” 

“Their argument is based on a single premise, which I think is flawed," Rubio reportedly told reporters Tuesday. "That is, these people are disproportionately poor because they have no education and they will be poor for the rest of their lives in the U.S. Quite frankly, that’s not the immigration experience in the U.S.”

“The folks described in that report are my family,” he added. “My mother and dad didn’t graduate high school, and I would not say they were a burden on the United States.”