Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh lashed out at Mexican immigrants Wednesday in a radio rant that portrayed them as lazy and government-dependent -- the latest in a series of anti-Mexican statements spouted off by far-right conservatives angered by the possibility of a deal to pass a bipartisan immigration reform.
Limbaugh, who pundits for a living, described Mexican immigrants as lazy and government-dependent, though they are well known for working labor-intensive jobs for lower wages, fewer protections and less government benefits than the native born.
“They want relatively poor people who depend on government for their prosperity,” Limbaugh said of Democrats. The radio host went on to question Mexican immigrants’ work ethic:
For some reason, culturally, they think that they're invested in hard work. And using the Cuban exile model, they're exactly right. But the Hispanic demographic, if you will, or population, has shifted. And the Cuban exile model is no longer the dominant model. The Mexican immigrant model is. And that -- they arrive with an entirely different view of America. And I'm sorry if this is offensive, but it's true.
In fact, Latinos as a whole use less than their fair share of government benefits. According to a study released last year by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 64 percent of the population in 2010 and received 69 percent of the entitlement benefits. In contrast, Hispanics made up 16 percent of the population but received 12 percent of the benefits, less than their proportionate share -- likely because they are a younger population and also because immigrants, including many legal immigrants, are ineligible for various benefits.
People of Mexican origin account for nearly 65 percent of the Latino population, while Cubans account for just 3.7 percent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
When making the comparison between Mexican immigrants and the Cuban exile generation that immigrated in the 1960s, the conservative radio host insisted that he was “not just asserting it,” and that “the scholarly research from academia is out there.”
Limbaugh then said that 75 percent of voting Hispanics believe that prosperity is the job of government, without citing a source or breaking down the Hispanic population by country of origin.
The unattributed figure was typical of Limbaugh’s approach during his radio talk. Using no source, Limbaugh estimated the undocumented population at “11 million, 12 million, 20 million or whatever.”
Roughly 11.1 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
While Limbaugh drew an unfounded distinction between the Mexican and Cuban work ethic, he did not mention a key fact that helps explain the Cuban-American community’s economic success: Cuban immigrants qualify for legal permanent residence the moment they set foot in the United States.
Limbaugh isn’t the only person to lob insults disguised as analysis at the Latino community in recent months.
Pundit Ann Coulter penned a column in December lashing out at Latinos after Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential election. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) said Republicans shouldn’t bother to try to cultivate the Latino vote because undocumented immigrants work primarily low-wage jobs.
In a video posted to YouTube, immigration hardliner Stephen Steinlight said that if undocumented Mexican immigrants were afforded a pathway to citizenship, they would lead a bloody civil rights movement.