(CNN) – A report released by the conservative Heritage Foundation that was highly critical of proposed immigration legislation is coming under new scrutiny after it was discovered its co-author previously wrote a dissertation citing lower IQs among immigrants.
The Heritage Foundation immediately distanced itself from the 2009 paper written by Jason Richwine, who is described on Heritage’s website as a quantitative analyst.
He penned a dissertation at Harvard titled “IQ and Immigration Policy” that asserted in its summary the “average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations.”
His paper argued for a policy that sought out immigrants with higher IQs, which he claimed would ameliorate problems currently affecting immigrant populations like “a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market.”
The linking of immigrants with lower IQs drew outcry, and was met with a swift response from the Heritage Foundation, which said Richwine had no role in devising the methodology of the group’s own immigration report, released this week.
“The Harvard paper is not a work product of The Heritage Foundation,” wrote Mike Gonzalez, vice president for communications at Heritage. “Its findings do not reflect the positions of The Heritage Foundation or the conclusions of our study on the cost of amnesty to U.S. taxpayers, as race and ethnicity are not part of Heritage immigration policy recommendations.”
Richwine’s dissertation was crafted while he “was a student at Harvard, supervised and approved by a committee of respected scholars,” Gonzalez wrote.
The Heritage report released Monday, called “The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer,” has two authors listed: Richwine and Robert Rector, a senior research fellow in domestic policy at Heritage.
The report determined that creating a legal pathway for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country would cost taxpayers a minimum $6.3 trillion over the lifetime of those immigrants. It also argues the average undocumented immigrant is 34-years-old, has a 10th grade education, and receives $14,387 per household in government benefits in excess of taxes paid.
Former Sen. Jim DeMint, who left Congress last year to head the Heritage Foundation, said at a news conference that "no sensible person could read this study" and conclude that the bill would have a positive impact. Comparing the bill to "Obamacare," DeMint chided comprehensive legislation and called instead for a "piece by piece approach."
Those conclusions were questioned Tuesday by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, an author of the Senate “Gang of Eight” legislation on immigration reform.
"I don't believe their report is really legitimate. I have a lot of respect for Heritage, but I don't believe their report is a legitimate one," the Florida Republican told CNN en Español’s Juan Carlos Lopez, arguing that improving America’s system of immigration would actually help bolster the economy.
"If they are legalized, they will be able to work and pay taxes, they'll be able to open businesses and in due time improve their financial situation and contribute to the country's wellbeing and not hurt the country," Rubio said. "So that's why I strongly disagree with that report."
Responding to his criticism, the Heritage Foundation wrote that “Senator Rubio’s parents came here in 1956, almost a decade before the introduction of the Great Society programs that laid the foundation of the modern welfare state. Over the following four and a half decades, our government has added layer upon layer of government involvement in our lives, creating a dependency that undermines self-respect and self-reliance.”
“We do not blame immigrants for being entrapped by that system; we blame the people who created that system,” Heritage continued in their statement. “We especially blame people who now seek to expand it. This is why Heritage has been leading the fight on the need to recreate upward mobility for low-income and middle-income Americans.”