David Frum tries to fill the pair of clown shoes that have been sitting around the CNN offices since Lou Dobbs left:
Many Americans carry in their minds a family memory of upward mobility, from great-grandpa stepping off the boat at Ellis Island to a present generation of professionals and technology workers. This story no longer holds true for the largest single U.S. immigrant group, Mexican-Americans.
Stephen Trejo and Jeffrey Groger studied the intergenerational progress of Mexican-American immigrants in their scholarly work, “Falling Behind or Moving Up?”
They discovered that third-generation Mexican-Americans were no more likely to finish high school than second-generation Mexican-Americans. Fourth-generation Mexican-Americans did no better than third.
If these results continue to hold, the low skills of yesterday’s illegal immigrant will negatively shape the U.S. work force into the 22nd century.
Ignoring for a second the obvious flaws in this argument – that the poor educational results aren’t necessarily a result of ability, but of circumstance and environment, both which can be improved upon – you can click through to the report to see that Mexican-Americans do about as well as African-Americans. In other words, David Frum is arguing that African-Americans and Mexican-Americans negatively shape the U.S. work force. The overall argument he’s making regarding immigration is no different than if he was arguing that we need to save the U.S. economy by keeping black people from having children.
Of course, this sentiment among conservatives shouldn’t be surprising to hear. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina specifically pointed to his state’s large African-American population as a “problem” facing his state. Conservatives often like to claim that the racism of the 1960s is dead. And in a way, they’re right. But a different racism has taken its place. What was once a more individualized contempt for any and all people of a different color has just transformed into a more subtle belief that people of a different ethnicity are collectively a burden on greater society.