Am I Too Mean To Jeb Bush?

by Jonathan Chait | January 18, 2011

Ezra Klein says I'm too hard on Jeb Bush:

When Bush says that "second-generation Hispanics marry non-Hispanics at a higher rate than second-generation Irish or Italians" and that "second-generation Hispanics' English language capability rates are higher than previous immigrant groups," he's directly answering a critique that has a lot of power among anti-immigration groups: that there's something different about this wave of immigrants as compared with previous waves of immigrants. 

It's clearly the case that Bush is making a pro-immigration argument and that he's refuting some harsh anti-immigrant forces within his party. Ezra seems to leap from that point to the conclusion that Bush is making a perfectly benign argument about immigrants. Here, again, is what Bush said:

His insistence on engagement is not a call for multiculturalism. Quite the opposite: "The beauty of America—one of the things that so separates us [from the rest of the world]—is this ability to take people from disparate backgrounds that buy into the American ideal."
With regard to assimilation, he says, Hispanics have much to be proud of. "Second-generation Hispanics marry non-Hispanics at a higher rate than second-generation Irish or Italians. Second-generation Hispanics' English language capability rates are higher than previous immigrant groups'." 

He's defending Latino immigration on the grounds that Latino immigrants intermarry and lose their identity. That's better than opposing Latino immigration on the grounds that those things won't happen. But not quite the same thing as accepting Latino immigrants as full Americans whether or not they marry white people and gradually lose their distinctive culture.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/81657/am-i-too-mean-jeb-bush