A senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation who wrote several years ago that Hispanics had a lower IQ than American whites, and that their descendants would too, has resigned, according to several published reports.

Jason Richwine’s post-doctoral Harvard dissertation on how non-European immigrants, and Latinos in particular, were intellectually inferior to American whites, brought a backlash to the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think tank.

Richwine’s dissertation, first reported by The Washington Post this week, quickly overshadowed a report he co-authored for the think tank asserting a $6.3 billion pricetag for immigration reform, specifically the legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Heritage distanced itself from Richwine’s dissertation, saying his views did not reflect those of the think tank.

Politico reported that “Friday afternoon’s announcement was part of an urgent damage control effort by the giant conservative think tank,” which the website had earlier reported was considering hiring a high-profile public relations firm to deal with the fallout.

According to Politico, Heritage said in a statement: “Jason Richwine let us know he’s decided to resign from his position. He’s no longer employed by Heritage. It is our long-standing policy not to discuss internal personnel matters.”

The late Friday development followed a roller-coaster week for The Heritage Foundation, which saw its report on the cost of a Senate immigration reform bill come under fire from both liberals and conservatives – many of whom called the study biased and inaccurate.

No sooner did The Heritage Foundation release the report than it found itself under attack for Richwine's comments from several years ago at Harvard.

Richwine said in his Harvard public policy dissertation that the IQ difference between white Americans and immigrants needs to factor in to decisions about which immigrants will be admitted to the United States to live.

“No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites," Richwine wrote, "but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”

Race and ethnicity are not part of Heritage immigration policy recommendations.

- Michael Gonzalez, spokesman for The Heriage Foundation

In a blog post, a spokesman for the think tank had stressed Richwine’s secondary role in the report, depicting Robert Rector as the lead author.

A Politico story said that Michael Gonzalez, The Heritage Foundation’s vice president of communications, would not say whether or not the think tank was considering hiring a public relations firm.

“If Heritage does hire an outside consulting firm, it would be a significant move,” the publication said. “The fact that outside help is under consideration suggests that the group, which has publicly rejected criticisms of the report and one of its coauthors, is seriously concerned about potential damage to its reputation.”

The think tank firmly defended, however, the report about the cost of reforming the immigration system – particularly allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. The Republican-led organization said the predicted $6.3 trillion pricetag comes from more than $9 trillion in government benefits to newly legalized immigrants over their lifetimes — only partially counterbalanced by $3 trillion they would pay in taxes.

That pricetag is being disputed by leaders on both sides of the immigration debate, many of whom say that, among other things, it fails to take into account the economic benefits of immigration reform.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who is part of a bipartisan measure to reform U.S. immigration laws, has been particularly critical of the report.

But in the last few days, the Richwine controversy overshadowed the findings of the report.

During Congress' last immigration debate, in 2007, a Heritage report said the bill under consideration at the time would cost $2.6 trillion. The conclusion was criticized, but carried weight with Republicans and the bill was defeated.

“Amnesty is unfair to those who come here lawfully and those who are waiting,” former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Heritage’s president, said during a presentation Monday. “It will cost the American taxpayer trillions of dollars over the next several decades and it will make our immigration problems worse.”

The Washington Post story that first reported on the dissertation said vestiges of Richwine's controversial view of today's immigrants are echoed in the Heritage Foundation report.

It cited an excerpt: “The legal immigration system should be altered to greatly reduce the number of low-skill immigrants entering the country and increase the number of new entrants with high levels of education and skills that are in demand by U.S. firms."

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