WASHINGTON—I have been called a “Spanish conquistador” in Peru, a “sudaca” (South American scum) in Spain, and a “wog” in Britain—and I am profiled as a Hispanic in the U.S. (which actually means “ancient Roman” since Hispania was the Iberian province of Rome). The first time I went to London, I was asked if there were any cars in Peru. I explained that they prefer flying saucers to avoid rush-hour congestion.
I may be forgiven for drawing attention to the abyss that separates perception from reality in today’s debate on immigration in the U.S. The fact that President Bush should feel compelled to send the National Guard to the border with Mexico in order to win support for his proposal to legalize millions of Hispanics is an indication of where perceptions stand.
Whenever there is a major disconnect between the law and reality, trying to force reality to fit the law only brings more misery. Forcing millions of real people to adjust to fiction—as the bill approved by the House of Representatives that triggered the recent protests by immigrants intends to do—is the stuff of totalitarianism.
Much of the Hispanic contribution has little connection to low-skilled jobs. According to Geoscape International, a third of Hispanic households earn over $50,000 a year. The Pew Hispanic Center puts the net worth of Hispanic households at more than $700 billion. HispanTelligence, a research division of Hispanic Business magazine, says the rate of growth of the purchasing power of Hispanics in the last 10 years is three times the national average. In 2010, Hispanics will own 3.2 million businesses. Clearly, these immigrants are expanding the national pie.
I expect Mr. Llosa has picked positive indicators and some terms are a bit vague -- what precisely does it mean to "speak English" -- but a short article can't be comprehensive and filled with footnotes. I found the optimistic view put forth a bracing corrective to the gnashers of teeth and criers of doom. As we say around here, read the whole thing. HT: NoLeftTurns.