There are now 43 million Hispanics living in the United States. At 15 percent of the population, they have displaced blacksas the largest racial minority. There used to be so few Hispanics that until 1980 the Census Bureau did not make a category from them. Since then, mass immigration and high birthrates explain the explosion in their population: they increased at 14 times the white rate from 2000 to 2005, for example, and at more than three times the black rate. Of the estimated 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants in this country, the best guess is that 78 percent are Hispanic. The amnesty President Bush and a Democratic Congress are planning will legalize them and, because of the “family-reunification” chain migration feature of current immigration law, ensure we get more in the future.
Is this good for America?
The way to answer the question is to look at the Hispanics who are already here and see how they are doing. We should do this before we open the door to their brothers and cousins and aunts and nephews. That is the purpose of the report, Hispanics: A Statistical Portrait, recently published by New Century Foundation (NCF).[PDF|HTML] It is a carefully documented compilation of all the standard social indices: income, education, crime rates, welfare use, illegitimacy rates, and much more.
It may seem unfeeling to turn an appraising eye on an entire group. But our policies on amnesty and immigration will establish the character of our population for generations to come. The decision to open our country to people who will be the fellow citizens of our children and grandchildren is not one to be taken in ignorance. What follow are just a few of the findings from the NCF report, which is available for download and circulation.
First, what is the economic impact of Hispanics? We are repeatedly told that immigrants do vital work natives will not do. It is certainly true that large numbers of low-skilled Hispanics hold down wages in certain industries. The result is often unemployment for natives and poverty for the immigrants—at least by American standards. In 2004, the median per capita income of Hispanics was $14,100—less even than that of blacks ($16,000)—and about half the white figure of $27,500. The median net worth even of Hispanics born in the United States was $10,425, or just 12 percent of the median white net worth of $88,651.
Poor, low-skilled people consume more in social services than they pay in taxes, and the Center of Immigration Studies calculates that the average Mexican immigrant will collect $55,200 more in government services during his lifetime than he will pay in taxes. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates that every year the net cost of illegal immigrants is $45 billion.
Hispanics who are in the country legally and can get welfare and go on unemployment seem to lose their storied willingness to take any available job. In 2004, for example, Hispanics were about 50 percent more likely to be unemployed than whites, and in the same year, fully half of all Hispanic households used at least one form of welfare, compared to 47 percent of blacks and 18 percent of whites.
Hispanics are a high-crime population second only to blacks. They are 2.3 times more likely to be in prison than whites (blacks are 6.8 times more likely), and are four times more likely than whites to commit murder, robbery or assault. Given that Mexico is our largest supplier of marijuana and cocaine, and our second-largest supplier of heroin, it is no surprise that Hispanics are nearly six times more likely than whites to be locked up for drug offenses. These problems are sure to get worse: Hispanics are no less than 19 times more likely than whites to be members of youth gangs (blacks are 18 times more likely).
Hispanics have a reputation for “family values.” But one wonders why. Their illegitimacy rate is 45 percent—nearly double the white rate but lower than the 69 percent rate for blacks. Hispanic women are 2.7 times more likely than white women to have abortions,[PDF] and are slightly more likely to get a divorce. Hispanics are also much more likely than whites to beat women. One study found Hispanic women are nine times more likely than white women to report domestic violence.
Of all the major population groups, Hispanics are least likely to have medical insurance: 33 percent as opposed to 11 percent for whites and 20 percent for blacks. The majority of immigrants from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have no insurance, which means they get treatment at public expense. They avoid routine care and often show up only when they have reached the point they need expensive treatment. Hispanics are three times more likely than whites to die of AIDS, and four times more likely to die of tuberculosis. Illegal immigrants come to America without health screening, and some bring diseases we thought we had eradicated: polio, typhoid, tuberculosis, plague, leprosy, and dysentery. Immigrants—probably Hispanic—brought bedbugs back to New York City.
Hispanics blame their bad health and lack of medical insurance on poverty, but in 2004, Mexicans saved enough to send $20 billion in remittances back home. Other Hispanics sent home another $10 billion; this could have bought a lot of medical insurance.
Things do not look promising for the next generation. According to one study, Hispanics are nearly three times more likely to drop out of high school than whites and twice as likely as blacks (43 percent, 26 percent, and 15 percent, respectively). Even Hispanics who have been in the United States for three generations or more are twice as likely as whites and slightly more likely than blacks not to have finished high school. Hispanics who manage to stay in school do as poorly as blacks. The average black or Hispanic 12th-grader reads and does math at about the level of the average white 8th-grader.
Only 28 percent of Hispanics aged 18 to 24 were in college in 2003, compared to 38 percent of blacks and 52 percent of whites. From 1974 to 2003, the percentage of Hispanic men who attended college actually declined, while the percentages for every other group rose.
What sort of citizens do Hispanics become? Even after they are naturalized, they remain emotionally attached to their homelands. In a poll taken by the Pew Hispanic Center, only 33 percent of Hispanic-American citizens said they considered themselves first or only American. Forty-four percent still called themselves their original, pre-immigration nationality (Mexican, Salvadoran, etc.), and another 22 percent said they were first or only “Latino or Hispanic.” When citizens and non-citizens of Mexican origin are taken together, 55 percent consider themselves Mexican, 25 percent Latino or Hispanic, and only 18 percent American.
The Mexican government works hard to keep it that way. As Juan Hernández of the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (Institute for Mexicans Abroad) explained on ABC’s Nightline, “I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ‘Mexico first.’ “If there were ever a sharp conflict between the United States and Mexico or any other Hispanic country, it is not hard to predict on which side of the controversy many Hispanics—citizens or non-citizens—would fall.
As the New Century Foundation report suggests, current immigration subverts long-standing national goals. We claim to be fighting poverty, but we import poor people. We claim to be fighting school failure but we import dropouts. We claim to be fighting disease, but we import tuberculosis and plague. We claim to be fighting crime, but we import people with high crime rates. This is baffling for anyone not in the uplift business and afraid of running out of work.
The process has been a gradual one, but we have redrawn the lines of the underclass. It used to be that a certain kind of news story was sure to be about blacks. No longer. In this sample of recent headlines, who can tell whether we are reading about blacks or Hispanics? “Baby Dies in Bucket of Mom’s Vomit,” “Mom Accused of Swinging [her own four-week old] Baby as Weapon,” “L.A. Police Say Killing Of 3-Year-Old In Gang Attack Was Intentional,” “North Dade Baby Shower Turns Deadly As Gunfight Breaks Out,” “Another ‘Super Safe Sunday’ Ends In Violence.”
If we applied ordinary logic to the question with which we began—Should we add millions of Hispanics to our population?—the answer would be a unanimous “no.”
However, since most Hispanics are not white, the question becomes one of race relations, to which ordinary logic does not apply.
When it comes to race, otherwise rational whites seem to believe the only consideration is to avoid being called “racist.” The country therefore does not even ask whether it needs millions more Hispanics, much less answer the question honestly.
If we were rational, we would weigh the pros and cons and decide that the cons have it. If the newcomers were white but had Hispanic rates of crime, poverty, illegitimacy, school failure, etc. we would tell them to stay home. But the thought of telling non-whites to stay home turns whites to jelly.
This explains what otherwise makes no sense. It explains why we appear to have become dissatisfied with only a black underclass, and decided to establish a Hispanic underclass as well.
Now the two can fight each other in schools and prisons, burden our social system, and cloud our future for generations to come.
[Refer to orginal article for footnotes.]