with Asians, reports the Aspen Institute, Hispanics are thenmost urbanized of all major U.S. groups, with “92 percentnof all Hispanics residing in cities and their surroundingnmetropolitan areas.” Almost 40 percent of legal immigrantsnsettle in only two greater metropolitan areas — Los Angelesnand New York City. More persons of Mexican origin residenin Los Angeles today than in any city in Mexico, with thenexception of Mexico City, the largest city on earth.nThe views of writers such as journalist Ben Wattenbergnand Julian Simon, a professor of business administration,nhave come to prevail in this policy debate. For them, massivenimmigration represents an unalloyed benefit. In this vein,nthe Hispanic Policy Development Project of the AspennInstitute adds that Hispanics “represent an aggregate $106nbillion consumer market,” and Linda Chavez, a seniornfellow at the Manhattan Institute, says Hispanic newcomersnare assimilating at roughly the same rate as previousnEuropean immigrant groups, and are saving entire U.S.nindustries from collapse.nYet, even as these arguments have gained nationalncurrency, a number of provocative reports are emerging thatnshow the other side of the coin, one that looks surprisinglynlike what Mr. Mufioz describes — and far worse.nThe Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington,nD.C., has reported that in 1990 Hispanic poverty ratesnoutstripped those of blacks for the first time, and that duringnthe I980’s the earnings gap between mainstream Americansnand Hispanics grew wider than between the mainstream andnany other impoverished group. The 1991 annual report ofnthe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pointsnout that neariy 40 percent of Mexican-Americans lacknhealth insurance, a rate three times that of whites and nearlyntwice as high as African-Americans. New York City and LosnAngeles officials point out that Hispanics are suffering annextremely severe crisis in low-cost housing. The HispanicnPolicy Development Project found in 1990 that “Hispanicnfamilies are less likely than others to be headed by a marriedncouple and more likely to be headed by a single parent.”nThe results of the decline of two-parent families amongnpoor blacks should raise a warning flag to anyone concernednwith the future of poor Hispanics.n”Being undereducated is undoubtedly the single biggestnobstacle to the overall economic assimilation of Hispanics,”nconcludes the Hispanic Policy Development Project. ThenHispanic dropout rate hovers around 40 or 50 percent, thenhighest of any group. According to a January 1990 study bynthe American Council of Education, high-school completionnrates for Hispanics aged 18 to 24 dropped from 62.8npercent in 1985 to 56 percent in 1989. Hispanic immigrantnstudents may be dropping out at a rate as high as 70 percent,naccording to Washington, D.C.-based policy analyst PatricknC. Burns, of the American Alliance for Rights and Responsibilities.nBefore assessing the impact of massive immigration onnHispanic-Americans, it is important to note that newcomersnto this country have not caused the structural shift innthe economy from manufacturing to services; nor have theynspurred the flight of jobs to the suburbs and offshore; nornhave they, by themselves, spawned the acute shortage ofnaffordable housing. When made, such charges can justifiablynbe dismissed as scapegoating. But the argument made herenis that it is one thing to allege unfairly that immigration hasnbeen the fundamental cause of these problems, and anothernthing to point out that massive immigration has exacerbatednthem.nCentral to the debate over the impact of immigration arenthe questions of job displacement and the depression ofnwages and working conditions. Labor economists generallynbelieve that the greater the number of workers vying for ansingle job, the lower the wages an employer is obligated tonoffer. In promoting the argument that massive low-skillnimmigrant labor can create more jobs, over time, thenpro-immigrationists appear indifferent to what happens tonlow-skill, low-income citizens with whom the immigrantsncompete for jobs immediately upon arrival. How muchnunemployment, underemployment, or related suffering onnthe part of citizen workers is appropriate while immigrationncreates jobs for them? A month? Six months? Longer?nDoes raising the numbers of impoverished immigrants reallynhelp during times of rising unemployment? If the dynamicsnof immigration create more jobs and prosperity for allnworkers, as the immigration cheerleaders aver, why, afternmore than two decades of relentless massive immigration,nare Hispanic wage-earners losing ground?nWhen asked if certain citizen workers are so injured bynthe growing concentration of immigrants that they arenexiting certain secondary labor markets (whether leaving fornnew locales, or remaining in the same area and merelynleaving the labor market in order to turn to welfare), thesenexperts explain that they cannot concern themselves withnsuch “discouraged” workers (to use the official governmentnterm) because their studies are rooted in microeconomics,nnot macroeconomics.nThis “out of sight, out of mind” explanation is particularlyninadequate when the experts are confronted with examplesnof displacement in the early 1980’s. Item: the apologistsnfor massive immigration appear to blame the large-scalenreplacement of black workers by Hispanic immigrants in thenhotel cleaning industry of Los Angeles on the blacksnthemselves, instead of acknowledging the obvious explanationnthat the immigrants depressed prevailing wages andnsystematically squeezed thousands of citizens out of thenindustry. To those who may suggest that the blacks left forngreener pastures, some evidence indicates that this may havenbeen the case for black women, but certainly not for blacknmen. Their plight worsened.nEconomist Ceorge J. Borjas reports finding litfle evidencenof immigrants having displaced citizens or ofnhaving depressed their wages, while the Hispanic PolicynDevelopment Project encounters “litfle evidence to supportnthe contention that Hispanics are taking away jobs fromnother Americans.” But as labor economist Vernon M.nBriggs, Jr. has noted, Borjas has chosen to study data fornentire Standard Statistical Metropolitan Areas that includennot only the inner cifles where the immigrants tend to work,nbut several surrounding counfles as well. Therefore, bynstudying statistics from very large areas where the immigrantsnaren’t as well as where they are, evidence of theirnimpact on the labor market is substantially diluted. Thatndoes not, however, mean they have had no impact. Moreover,nthere’s no way of ascertaining how many workers didnnnJULY 1991/25n