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2006 June 04 Sunday
Ron Guhname Compares Ethnic Groups

The Inductivist blogger Ron Guhname digs through the results of the National Opinion Research Center General Social Surveys (GSS) and finds facts about groups that go against the conventional wisdom. He's been digging for info in the last couple of months about Mexicans compared to other immigrants and has dug up a lot of facts that do not support immigration myths widely promoted by the "Open Borders" crowd. I've collected up many of his posts on this topic and excerpted them below.

Some happy talkers argue that Mexicans come to the United States for freedom. I think they come to make more money. If they come for freedom you'd expect they'd be keen on becoming American citizens. Nope. Most Mexican immigrants do not place much value on American citizenship.

Mexican immigrants do not value American citizenship: An reader wrote that illegals don't want to be citizens, but "Mexicans with benefits." What do the data say? GSS respondents were asked how important is it to them to be an American citizen. Only one-third of Mexican immigrants said this was important. Almost twice as many immigrants from all the other countries felt this way (60%). Eighty percent of native-born Americans value their citizenship.

They don't come here for freedom. If they did they'd want to become citizens. They come here to make more money.

Mexicans are most race conscious after blacks.

Mexicans are the most race conscious, after blacks: The General Social Survey asks which social identity is most important to the respondent, then lists the following: current occupation, race/ethnicity, gender, age, religion, political party, nationality, family or marital status, social class, and region of the country. I was interested in how many Mexicans consider ethnicity to be their most important identity compared with other groups. Fifteen percent of blacks list this as being most important. For whites, it is 2 percent. For Mexican immigrants, it is 12%, and for native-borns of Mexican ancestry, it is 8%. Except for blacks, no ethnic group has numbers that high, whether we are looking at immigrants or those born in this country.

Another post provides a more detailed numeric breakdown on ethnocentricity by ethnic group.

In America, which ethnic group is most ethnocentric? The General Social Survey asked respondents if they think about social and political issues as Americans or as members of an ethnic group. The obvious choice is blacks, right? Well yeah, there's no news there. Listed below are the percent who answered ethnic group:

1. Blacks 43.5%
2. Mexicans 21.9
3. Jews 15.8
4. Italians 12.0
5. American Indians 7.8
6. Irish 5.1
7. Scots 4.8
8. English/Welsh 2.5
9. Germans .9

With massive Mexican illegal immigration, we might be creating yet another nation within a nation. It surprises me that Jews and Italians are more ethnocentric than American Indians! But for most white groups, just about all sense of ethnicity has vanished.

Whites will eventually become more ethnocentric in response. Do the advocates of large scale immigration want to make Americans less individualistic? Or are they just indifferent on this question?

Says Steve Sailer in the comments:

What's funny is that this list is in almost perfect inverse order from how the media stereotypically portrays these groups in terms of ethnocentricity and bias: the Germans want to conquer the world, the WASPs are super snooty and exclusive, etc. etc.

Mexican teens behave poorly.

Truant 4+ days last semester
White 10%
Black 12
Mexican 19


Ever tried cocaine
White 5
Black 4
Mexican 10

Ever carry weapon
White 8
Black 12
Mexican 14

Hey there white liberals: Mexicans are worse that blacks by some measures. Take note.

Respect for free speech is not equal among all groups.

For American political values, I looked for a free speech question. Respondents were asked if they agreed that a racist should have the right to give a speech in their community. The numbers (just for immigrants this time):

1. Filipinos 66.7%
2. English/Welsh 66.3
3. Germans 60.7
4. Africans 58.4
5. Italians 56.9
6. Chinese 50.7
7. Indians 50.0
8. Spain 43.9
9. Mexicans 40.8

My guess is that economic libertarians will attach little importance to these results because they attach more importance to the free movement of labor than to free speech.

Some of you may have noticed from events over in Iraq (among other places) that not all people support basic human rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. If you are keen to have such rights then you ought to support immigration policies designed to keep out people who attach less importance to basic rights.

Liberals are making a mistake by supporting mass Hispanic immigration. Hispanics vote for the Democrats because the Democrats are more inclined to deliver government spending for the benefit of Hispanics. But on some other matters dear to the hearts of liberals Mexicans oppose Democratic Party positions and as Mexicans become a larger fraction of the Democratic Party's base they will push the party away from positions that white liberals hold dear. Not surprisingly, lower income Mexicans are less supportive of spending on the environment. Environmentalism is an upper class cause. People who have satisfied their basic needs are more inclined to want to clean up the environment. Poorer people just want more money.

35% of Mexican descent males born in the United Sates have been arrested.

Mexicans are not assimilating: My friends tell me to not worry about illegal immigration because, while we see certain problems now, they are temporary because America has always successfully assimilated new people. Well, one good indicator of assimilation is less and less involvement in crime. But the General Social Survey tells us that recent cohorts of immigrants from Mexico have been differentiating away from mainstream America. Eleven percent of first generation male immigrants admitted that they had been arrested before. Fine, that rate is not high. (They may be underreporting for fear of being deported). But the percent of men of Mexican descent born in this country who say they have been arrested is 35 percent--a huge increase! Studies put the country's number of Hispanic gang members at close to half a million, and most of them were born here.

I never used to see graffiti in my neighborhood. Now I see lots of it. I bet economic models on the effects of immigration do not have graffiti included on the cost side. Nor do I suspect those models include the costs of private schooling and driving costs for taking kids to private schools for those who pull their kids out of schools which are more dangerous and less conducive to learning due to increasing numbers of Hispanic kids in the schools.

To a libertarian predisposed for ideological reasons to see no problem with Mexican immigration my guess is this evidence can pretty easily be ignored. But those who are more empirically minded should consider the empirical evidence on immigration.

Mexican Americans are for big government.

Very strongly agree that government should reduce income differences
Blacks 33%
MA 24%
All Americans 18%


Very strongly agree that government should help pay for medical care
Blacks 47%
MA 34%
All Americans 29%

You might think that economic libertarians or the Wall Street Journal Open Borders crowd would be disturbed by these results. But, again, I think they can rationalize away all of this.

The immigration debate is between restrictionsts who marshal large amounts of evidence and large scale immigration advocates who offer myths and unrealistic models.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 June 04 09:52 PM  Immigration Societal Decay

John S Bolton said at June 4, 2006 11:58 PM:

Yes, and the unrealistic model that libertarians rely on, is that theory says we could have a society in which an unsuccessful immigration cohort could be prevented from increasing the aggression in society, by denying them access to net public subsidy. This is indeed very unrealistic to assume; and quite irresponsible to proceed as if such realizations of theoretical purity were about to happen.
Even when no access to net public subsidy were encouraged, there are ways to make it happen. Doctors are pledged to provide for the medical needs of the poor, when these will otherwise be left unattended to, at some approximation of the standard prevailing in the country. This charity, then becomes a charge on the established population.
Yet, without allowance of the wrong quantity and quality of immigration, this charge is not imposed on them.
There is no gainsaying the basic circumstance, that the low-income do not pay their way in a society with standards high enough to induce immigration of the sort we face, today.
Liberals are trying to put over a right to medical immigration, as if globalizing the world's standard of medical care were desirable.
Globalizing America's political culture down to the level represented by Mexicans, is itself as good a disproof of the undesirability of globalization through immigration as could be wanted.

John S Bolton said at June 5, 2006 2:18 AM:

Sorry, the last sentence above should be ...'disproof of the desirability of globalization'...
When an immmigrant group is placed in a category where negative information cannot be reported, that indicates a foreigner-first attitude; it indicates a disloyalty to one's countrymen. There's no way people don't notice this.

Kenelm Digby said at June 5, 2006 4:01 AM:

To return to my theme, the Keynesian fallacy that did so much harm to western economies in the 1970s was based on the fallacy that somehow governments could pluck "wealth" out of the thin air, and everyone would live happily ever after in the Utopian fairytale where poverty and distress are eliminated by rational, scientific thought.
This view, with the benefit of hidsight, is anathema to the so called neo-cons.
But the neo-cons put great store in an equally absurd proposition ie the mere fact a nation contains as many warm bodies as possible, (never mind their IQ are other moral attributes), "wealth" will automatically accrue!
The stupidity of "educated" people never seems to amaze me.

D Flinchum said at June 5, 2006 4:35 AM:

"My friends tell me to not worry about illegal immigration because, while we see certain problems now, they are temporary because America has always successfully assimilated new people."

While it is true that the US has done a remarkable job of assimilating immigrants from the last Great Wave (1880's-1920's), it did so with a long pause as a result of restictive immigration law (1924), the Great Depression, and WWII. Also, a great ocean separated the US from the home countries of the vast majority of these immigrants. It wasn't until around 1970 when the 1965 immigration expansion law actually began to take effect that immigration numbers started moving up again. We have now exceeded the Great Wave numbers in a country that is vastly more crowded; and the countries that they are from are close by.

"But on some other matters dear to the hearts of liberals Mexicans oppose Democratic Party positions and as Mexicans become a larger fraction of the Democratic Party's base they will push the party away from positions that white liberals hold dear."

Environmentalism, sure, but even more so on women's rights, especially abortion, and gay rights. Latin America is not just close-minded on these two subjects, they are hostile. It may be true that the new immigrants do not value environmentalism, but truthfully how much do white liberals who support massive immigration value environmentalism past NIMBY?

Also John S Bolton is absolutely correct regarding the libertarian view on open borders: If they are supporting open borders and hoping that somehow the welfare state is going to disappear, they are dreaming.

Ivan Kirigin said at June 5, 2006 4:03 PM:

Only non-libertarians would want to set government policy to ensure the health of their party's constituency. That much is obvious.

It is also consistenly ignored as the statement is made again and again on this site.

I agree with the folks at Marginal Revolution. Immigration is probably the most successful anti-poverty measure in history. The benefits to immigrants are largely ignored here.

D Flinchum said at June 5, 2006 6:45 PM:

"Immigration is probably the most successful anti-poverty measure in history. The benefits to immigrants are largely ignored here."

As they should be. Immigration should first and foremost be to the benefit of the citizens of the receiving country. The benefits of bank robbers and those who murder for insurance money are not taken into account as a cost of crime. If they were, crime would, indeed, pay.

Ivan Kirigin said at June 5, 2006 7:02 PM:

"Immigration should first and foremost be to the benefit of the citizens of the receiving country."

There is a cost in having poorer neighbors. Also, i would generally complain that this blog is pretty one-sided. The numbers here are probably accurate and problems real, but an argument means much less if it doesn't even acknowledge the other side. Wailing about the costs isn't really a policy debate -- it's a screen.

But reasonable debate on immigration would even lead to some of the same conclusions as this blog.
- We need a wall.
- We should be more selective with the multitudes of people that come here.
- we should let more very intelligent people in -- even offer incentives.
- We should make it easies to travel for those who are in the process of becoming citizens.
- We generally shouldn't bar people from mutually beneficial and voluntary exchange of goods and services.

Comparing millions of people to criminals is a bit over the top.

Engineer-Poet said at June 5, 2006 8:02 PM:

Why is it over the top to compare millions to criminals?  They are criminals!  Millions of illegal aliens have committed felony document fraud, to name just one crime.  You can say that's "victimless", but the people affected by rising taxes, schools which become lower quality and more costly, crowding, and the direct effects of crime are true victims of these criminals.

It's time to throw every last one of them out, and that includes revoking the citizenship of those from previous amnesties who have abetted illegals.  If this is a nation of laws and not of men, all illegal aliens and their co-conspirators should respect and fear the law.

D Flinchum said at June 6, 2006 6:54 AM:

First, although I agree totally with Engineer-Poet, I was, in fact, comparing "benefits" not people per se. If a bank robber nets a million dollars and the bank loses a million, do we declare ourselves even-steven and forget about it? No, the money belongs to the bank (or its depositors), not the robber, and we act accordingly. It goes without saying that immigration benefits the immigrant, otherwise he'd not leave his own country. The main issue here is the cost of his immigrating to the citizens of the receiving country. It is not cheap.

Second, Mexico is a rich country. The third richest man in the world is Carlos Slim, a Mexican. It is also very corrupt, its rich pay very little in taxes, it spends little on education, and it drastically restricts outside businesses and individuals in operating there. There is little that we can do to change this, but continuing to accept the overflow of poorly educated people who stream across our border only lessens the likelihood that it will ever change.

Malek said at June 6, 2006 9:42 AM:

Ivan, you should allow as many homeless people as you possibly can into your home. Forget about the problems that you would face. Stop being so one-sided and think about the benefit to all the homeless. And who cares if most of your neighbours complain about the changes to the neighbourhood, the rise in crime, etc., because they're a bunch of simple-minded reactionaries anyhow.

Ivan Kirigin said at June 6, 2006 7:33 PM:

Folks have a way of taking what is said, and turning it into an argument that is more extreme and simpler to defeat. How about an example.

"you should allow as many homeless people as you possibly can into your home."

In response to my comment saying "We need a wall."

I'm glad and unsurprised real policy does not come from debates like this.

"continuing to accept the overflow of poorly educated people who stream across our border only lessens the likelihood that it will ever change."

I don't think that's true. Remittences are a distributed system of micro payments to people that need them. They are better than aid. Do you think people that move here stop caring about their home countries?

Of course, trade is best, so I agree that closed systems in Latin America are a problem.

Chris said at June 6, 2006 10:46 PM:


"Do you think people that move here stop caring about their home countries?"

Ivan, this is supposed to be your 'home country' why don't you care about IT, by supporting it, before you worry that others still care about their 'home country'. Why the hell are they here if they still care about their 'home country'. GO HOME!! GET OUT!!!

There is a bloody big recession coming like a freight train and I am tired of paying for indigent and worthless illegal invaders. Do you think that crime is going to suddenly get better when the money runs out...what the heck are we going to do with an invading force that openly flouts our laws and thinks that we OWE them? Do you think that their will just vanish back to Mexico or are they going to begin preying on American citizens? It doesnít take a genius to figure these things out, its basic cause and effect, that is, unless you have been so BRAINWASHED by the liberal media and education system that you can't see the obvious. When the money does run out, and it will in a big way very soon, we are going to be stuck in one of the most volatile national positions in history. You have what could easily be a gigantic armed and dangerous populace, who isn't 'grateful for opportunity' but thinks that they are entitled to our country, its wealth and lifestyle, who thinks already that ALL American's (this is not limited just to 'me', Ivan, they think the SAME thing about YOU) are racist, classist, money loving and stingy...I can't think of a worse situation to be in. Blathering on about fairness in debate is missing the whole point. If you want to save your country, Ivan, you will stand up for it. If you want to preserve whatever this country ever stood for, you will STOP talking about 'fairness' and 'micro payments' before this whole thing really gets out of hand. I know people will read this and think I am extreme, but extremes are usually the vanguard of movements, it takes a while before others catch takes bad experiences and tragedy to be on the vanguard. I hope that when you are still clinging to your idealism and wishy washy middle of the road values of fairness, debate, openness, peace and understanding that you have also managed to protect yourself and all those you love. Sometimes strength comes from KNOWING what is right and good and NOT being AFRAID of protecting it.

At the very least you need to re-think your position and ideology. You are domesticated, they are not. They are not the same type of people we have become...after all would you stand in front of a Grizzly and 'have a debate' over land rights. Or apply the logic, rationalization and fairness to a charging lion (perhaps you could offer him 'micro payments'). A 'domesticated animal' might try to run that game, but the end result for that animal will always be the same, he gets eaten. Your culture has allowed you certain intellectual privileges and ideologies, but if you try to extrapolate your values and use them in a debate with that lion, you are going down, buddy. In many ways you are the perfect product of our culture, but it simply can't be applied to other animals not indoctrinated with your ideology and cultural bias. And yes, Ivan, in the end we are all still animals, itís just that some of us have been trained to perform circus tricks and tamed, while others exist in a more natural state.

I perform a circus trick ever time my mortgage is on time...but that doesn't stop the jackals nipping at my heels from telling me what a 'selfish money loving prick that only cares about the end cost and not the people, I am'. Of course the metaphorical jackals are always there, are they not, just outside the campfire, growling and complaining that I have things they don't...never mind the fact that if they worked as hard as I do...instead of, say, prowling around my campfire all night and then sleeping all day, could have also. Essentially, you are offering to let the jackals into the camp to raid, every time you insist that they 'are crying because they are hungry' or 'they system descriminates against jackals, ITS NOT FAIR!' or 'what this country needs is a good debate about whether or not jackals would enjoy camp food and our livestock if given the oppertunity to eat it.' You are proposing something that in the old country would have been the worst criminal offense. Destroying our built up security, money and accumulated wealth by giving it away to an animal that hasn't the foresight to re-build that same framework. If you do this and support this ideology we may all 'starve through the winter'. The last thing I have to say is that although they constantly complain of hunger pains and unfairness there never seems to be a jackal shortage in all of written history, somehow they manage to reproduce.

D Flinchum said at June 7, 2006 4:14 AM:

"Remittences are a distributed system of micro payments to people that need them. They are better than aid. Do you think people that move here stop caring about their home countries?"

Remittences help only those selected families who receive them and lessen the likelihood that Mexico will ever change its ways. If you can ship your excess unskilled workers off to the US, where they can get free schooling for their children, get free medical care, work off the books, get some social services, save money by turning middle-class neighborhoods into over-crowded third-world slums, and thereby send money back to cover their relatives in Mexico, then why bother to stir up your wealthy classes by economic reforms? Let the US middle and working classes pay! The wealthy in the US can successfully avoid most of the indirect costs by living in gated communities and sending their children to private schools.

Suppose the US's reaction to the unrest in the black community that started the civil rights movement had been to tell them "Not a chance!" and then point them toward Canada, with maps and evasion instructions, telling them to be sure to send money back to their relatives in Alabama and Mississippi? We could have saved a bundle and could even have called those unhappy Canadians xenophobic racists if they objected to what we did, couldn't we?

Svigor said at June 8, 2006 3:37 PM:
Mexicans are not assimilating: My friends tell me to not worry about illegal immigration because, while we see certain problems now, they are temporary because America has always successfully assimilated new people.

To add to what Flinchum wrote above: previous immigrants were relatively far more racially and culturally similar to the native stock in times past (Social Identity Theory); America had a spine then and demanded assimilation, now she does not and encourages separation (via multiculturalism, non-white victimology, white-bashing, affirmative action and other racial spoils); Mexicans don't want to assimilate; a few past examples do not a rule make.

Svigor said at June 8, 2006 3:40 PM:

I don't see how Mexicans are going to assimilate. Blacks haven't assimilated after a century. Just look at jewish political behavior, keeping in mind they're racially and culturally quite similar to Europeans.

Bob Badour said at June 8, 2006 6:27 PM:


When you speak of benefits to the immigrants, you sound ridiculous.

The historical record of well over 99% of all human migrations suggests immigrants destroy civilizations. Most parts of the old world have seen wave after wave of migration. Usually, the newcomers killed the men and then assimilated with the women. Just look at Greece: Dorians, Ionians, Spartans. Or England: Celts, Romans, Anglo-saxons, Danes, Normans.

The European immigration to North America displaced the population of an entire continent.

John S Bolton said at June 9, 2006 2:43 AM:

The 'mexicans are fated to assimilate' notion could be more of a rhetorical device to give those who say this, a chance to use ad hominem, etc. against the restrictionist position. What, Mexicans will not assimilate, only a racist would say that- is the likely intention. Notice also that current aggression by immigration cohorts is thus precluded from discussion, by leading the participant onto the dubious premise that what matters is what immigrants' children or grandchildren do.
Finding poor assimilation in a group, is really secondary to the consideration of whether the current immigration use aggression to establish themselves here. Assimilation in future generations cannot make up for the evil visited upon the net taxpayer today.

D Flinchum said at June 9, 2006 5:05 AM:

"Notice also that current aggression by immigration cohorts is thus precluded from discussion, by leading the participant onto the dubious premise that what matters is what immigrants' children or grandchildren do."

Ah, John S Bolton, right again! And isn't it "special" that what these children and grandchildren MAY do is into the future and so not clearly seen now, unlike the obvious problems, economic and otherwise, brought on by the current waves of immigrants, which we are discouraged from discussing?

Meanwhile with family reunification, we not only have to deal with the (newly legalized) immigrant but also his immediate family and potentially his parents (a previous generation), and, in due course, maybe brothers and sisters, who can then start their own "chain migrations". Needless to say, since they would be in the US legally as well, these reunified relatives are eligible for numerous tax-payer financed benefits, including SSI for the aged parents. Not a single one of these family members has been allowed into the US for the benefit of the US and its citizens, just the immigrant and his family members. This is a very expensive way to hire unskilled labor.

D Flinchum said at June 11, 2006 5:48 AM:

"I'm glad and unsurprised real policy does not come from debates like this." Ivan Kirigin

Somehow I missed this in my earlier reading.

The sad fact is that "real policy" is coming from debates and considerations that are far less thoughtful than those I've seen here. The action on S 2611 was so hurried and so badly thought out that several Senators have confessed that they have no idea what the actual POPULATION outcomes of this bill are likely to be. One even tried to defend his support for this proposal that stands to absolutely upend this country's demographics, environment, education system, and economy while destroying vast sections of the middle class by saying that, well, actually nobody knows. One Senator had to ask at one point if the Senate had just raised or lowered the number of H-1B's allowed in per year. And population is only one aspect of this bill, and one that is much easier to quantify than others.

This is no way to pass legislation that will have huge long-term effects on the US, especially when it will be impossible to go back and undo the damage. Once you have accepted massive numbers of people into the US and given them permanent resident status or citizenship, you can't go back and say, "Just kidding!" We can raise or lower taxes fairly quickly. No so with immigration issues. Even if we change the laws in the future, what has been done in the meantime stays a "done deal".

I served for 6 years on a Landlord-Tenant Board in a city in Northern Virginia. All of us were volunteers and none of us were paid. We gave more intelligent consideration to approving the amending of a minor clause in a condo conversion plan than I have seen the Senate give S 2611, which will have graver effects on the US than the decision to invade Iraq.

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