At a National Journal and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-sponsored event in a D.C. Grand Hyatt Hotel conference room, New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez used the event to slam the Republicans.
The event highlighted the concerns of education policy experts and educators about the growing Hispanic and black populations. College presidents and leaders of various organizations addressed the concerns of educating minorities better to close the achievement gap.
Instead of focusing solely on the topic at hand, Menendez used his platform as a distinguished guest to criticize the Republican Party. He was irked that the GOP had not voted on the comprehensive immigration plan, which he and seven other senators of the Gang of Eight, put together. He claimed that he “worked across the aisle” and that this law would preserve “our history as a nation of immigrants.”
In his own words, “doing right by communities of color is doing right by the country” would in the next ten years “increase America’s GDP by $800 million,” “reduce the deficit by $190 billion” and cut an additional “trillion dollars in deficit spending.” Menendez also said that the Hispanic community generatede up to $1.2 trillion in the American economy, citing a study by the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress.
Actually, the senator’s assertions and those of CAP, run counter to the evidence amassed by George Borjas  of the Kennedy School of Government. The Kennedy School, by the way, has never been mistaken for a right-wing think tank.
Borjas found that:
- “The relative skills of successive immigrant waves have declined over much of the postwar period. In 1970, for example, the latest immigrant arrivals on average had 0.4 fewer years of schooling and earned 17 percent less than natives. By 1990 the most recently arrived immigrants had 1.3 fewer years of schooling and earned 32 percent less than natives.
- “Because the newest immigrant waves start out at such an economic disadvantage, and because the rate of economic assimilation is not very rapid, the earnings of the newest arrivals may never reach parity with the earnings of natives. Recent arrivals will probably earn 20 percent less than natives throughout much of their working lives.
- “The large-scale migration of less-skilled workers has done harm to the economic opportunities of less-skilled natives. Immigration may account for perhaps a third of the recent decline in the relative wages of less-educated native workers.
- “The new immigrants are more likely to receive welfare assistance than earlier immigrants, and also more likely to do so than natives: 21 percent of immigrant households participate in some means-tested social-assistance program (such as cash benefits, Medicaid , or food stamps), as compared with 14 percent of native households.
- “The increasing welfare dependency in the immigrant population suggests that immigration may create a substantial fiscal burden on the most-affected localities and states.
- “There are economic benefits to be gained from immigration. These arise because certain skills that immigrants bring into the country complement those of the native population. However, these economic benefits are small — perhaps on the order of $7 billion annually.”
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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