Myth Debunked: A Latin Conservative Tidal Wave Is Not Coming

Heather Mac Donald, National Review Online, July 24, 2006

The myth of the redemptive Hispanic is finally cracking. For years, conservative open-borders advocates have touted Hispanic “family values” as a prime reason to increase immigration. Hispanic immigrants, these conservatives say, will save America from itself. At a time when Anglo and black families are disintegrating, when society is becoming increasingly atomized and alienated, Hispanics will bring the traditional values that the country so desperately needs. In a classic iteration of the theme, Larry Kudlow wrote on NRO last May that Hispanic immigrants would “become a much-needed churchgoing blue-collar middle class . . . that is crucial to a healthy America.”

The truth is now supplanting the fiction. Last Friday, the New York Times ran an editorial, “Young Latinas and a Cry for Help,” that laid out the real state of the Hispanic family. A quarter of all Latinas are mothers by the age of 20, few of them married, reported the Times. This out-of-wedlock teen-birth rate is three times that of white teens, and significantly more than that of blacks as well. The Hispanic dropout rate is also the highest in the country—the Manhattan Institute’s Jay Greene puts it at 47 percent.

There is simply no way to square the facts about Hispanic family breakdown with the myth of the redemptive Hispanic. Talk to any social worker and she will tell you that illegitimacy has become completely normalized among her Hispanic clients. And the usual explanation for this epidemic of illegitimacy—an unresolved culture clash between young people and their traditional parents—is equally bogus. The mothers of teen mothers are themselves completely on board with single parenting, say the social workers, having often been single parents themselves. And they have no qualms about hooking their daughter and grandchildren into the public-benefits apparatus: “It’s now culturally OK for that population to be served by the welfare system,” says a case manager in a Santa Ana, Calif., home for teen mothers.

Far from exercising a brake on the erosion of traditional values, as conservative immigration advocates claim, the growing Hispanic population will provide the impetus for more government alternatives to personal responsibility. Advocates for young unwed mommies in the South Bronx are agitating for more day-care centers in high schools to accommodate the students’ children, reports El Diario/LA PRENSA. Demand for the 18 day-care slots at Bronx Regional High School, for example, far outstrips the supply, an 18-year-old Hispanic mother who attends the school told the paper. A bill has been introduced in Congress, the Latina Adolescent Suicide Prevention Act, to channel $10 million in federal funds to “culturally competent” social agencies to improve the self-esteem of Latina girls and to provide “support services” to their families and friends if they contemplate suicide.

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