So much of the discussion of Hispanics in America is circumscribed by what one might call "The Immigrant Experience." Swirling around the minds of most journalists and academics who write about the subject are a set of Ellis Island clichés that go something like this: "Hispanics might commit crime at high rates now, and struggle with familial breakdown and the like, but just you wait! After a generation or two, they'll assimilate to the American Way, just like the Irish and Italians before them." We've all heard it.
The first problem with this view is that, by and large, Hispanics aren't immigrants. Two thirds of the population is native born.
The second problem is that, by and large, the third generation is worse off than the second on a host of issues, and sometimes worse off than first-generation immigrants. According to a recent Pew Center study, with respect to the second generation, third-generation Hispanics are...
- more likely to live below the poverty line,
- more likely to be unemployed,
- more likely not to go to college,
- more likely to engage in teen sex,
- more likely to approve of teens having sex,
- more likely to report having been in a fight over the past year,
- more likely to have a friend or family member in a gang.
And so on. Social scientists like to label this phenomenon the "immigrant paradox." I think it has a lot to do with the fact that as Hispanics stay in the country longer, they loose touch with the traditional (if sometimes gaudy) Catholic culture that still keeps new arrivals in line (at least relatively speaking.) Once the old ways are lost, Hispanics begin assimilating down to behavior patterns reminiscent of African-Americans, a phenomenon that roughly accords with Hispanics' average IQ of 90.
And there's another important thing worth mentioning regarding demographics.
I don't have a background in statistics or the hard social science, so I'm going to refrain from discussing Ron Unz's data set (and leave that up to Jason Richwine and others.) But just for the sake of argument, let's accept Unz's thesis and assume that adjusted for age and sex, Hispanics commit crime at the same rate as whites.
Even if this were true, it's not particularly relevant to Americans' lived experiences, for the Hispanic demographic is overwhelmingly young and male. Hispanics are actually the only majority male population in the U.S., and their median age is 27 (compared to 41 for whites). Hispanics comprise 18 percent of all youth (16-25) and over 40 percent of youths in places like California and New Mexico.
Interestingly, this unusual demographic doesn't come about due to border crossers. Immigrant Hispanics have, pretty much, a "bell curve" demographic, with most of the population bunched around middle-aged. The second- and third-generation demographics, however, are hyperboles, with 37 percent of the population under the age of ten and close to 65 percent under 20.
Thus, Unz's thesis is mostly operative for people who live near Hispanic bingo parlors and retirement communities. Those who live near the multitudinous dangerous young males will tell a different story. Demography is destiny, and the Latino demographic indicates that Hispanics will be filling up the prisons and committing the lion's share crime in this country for decades and decades to come.