The Corner

Man Bites Dog . . .

. . . and the MSM reports honestly on immigration. Nurit Aizenman has a good piece on the front page of today’s Washington Post on the “Struggles of the second generation,” combining one man’s story with actual data:

Javier Saavedra slumped his burly frame into a worn, plaid couch in the cramped basement room he shares with his girlfriend and their 2-year-old daughter, his expression darkening as he ticked off all the wrong turns that had gotten them stuck below the economy’s ground floor.

Raised by Mexican immigrant parents, Saavedra was a gang member by 13, a high school dropout by 16 and a father by 21. Now 23, he has been trying to turn his life around since his daughter, Julissa, was born.

But without a high school diploma, Saavedra was unable to find a job that paid enough for him and his girlfriend, Mayra Hererra, 20 and pregnant with their second child, to move out of her parents’ brick home in Hyattsville.

A prominent sociologist sums up the problem:

“The second generation is doing way better” than their parents, said Ruben Rumbaut, a professor at the University of California at Irvine and a leading scholar on second-generation Latino immigrants. “But way better can still mean they are high school dropouts with 11 years of education, as opposed to their parents, with six years. And in this economy, an 11th-grade dropout is not going to make it.”

After quoting me (I told you it was a good piece) on the need to reduce immigration, here’s how the reporter described the other side’s response:

Supporters of Latino immigrants say that the newcomers and their children have spurred economic growth and contribute far more to society than they take from it. They also note that even a complete halt to future immigration would not change the footprint of the 15.5 million U.S.-born offspring of Latino immigrants already in the country.

Of the three claims in this paragraph, the first is true but irrelevant (“spurred economic growth” — more people obviously means a bigger economy, but that doesn’t mean it’s better for the people already here). The second (“contribute far more”) is flatly untrue. But the third claim really takes the cake — it’s true that “a complete halt to future immigration” wouldn’t change the fact of a large population of poorly educated children of immigrants already here, but it would certainly help their future prospects. If Javier Saavedra is “unable to find a job that paid enough,” which immigration policy is more likely to help change that — one that continued to flood the low-skilled labor market with an ever-growing reserve army of labor, or immigration restriction to tighten the labor market, increasing his value to potential employers?

Christopher Jencks described the thinking behind our current immigration policy:

We are betting that we can admit millions of unskilled immigrants to do our dirty work without creating a second generation whose members will have the same problems as the children of the American-born workers who do such jobs.

We’ve lost that bet, and it’s time to stop playing.

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