It is not surprising that Victor Davis Hanson’s latest book, Mexifornia: A State of Becoming has transformed him into the new darling of the anti-immigrant movement. Unencumbered by the references, footnotes, facts and figures which clutter most books about immigration, Hanson relies largely upon personal anecdotes and emotional tirades to create a pastiche of fearful imagery. In general, Hanson’s arguments are wildly inconsistent, informed more by stereotype than substance, and characterized by a remarkable unfamiliarity with Mexican history and culture.
In a somewhat meandering August report, Breaking the Piggy Bank: How Illegal Immigration is Sending Schools Into the Red, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) attempts to make the argument that the cost of educating undocumented immigrant students in public elementary and high schools is a major cause of the budget deficits currently facing most states and precipitating cuts in school funding. However, the report’s own statistics do not support this claim. Even if the report is correct in its assertion that the cost to states was $7.4 billion in 1999-2000, this represents only 1.9 percent of the $381.8 billion spent nationwide on public elementary and secondary education and a miniscule fraction of the roughly $1 trillion in total spending by state governments.Moreover, the report neglects to mention that the estimated 1.1 million undocumented K-12 students in 2000 comprised a mere 2 percent of the total student population and that many state governments – including California’s – were running budget surpluses at that time. It is no more plausible to claim that undocumented students are somehow largely to blame for current budget deficits than it is to claim they deserve most of the credit for the budget surpluses of three years ago.
The Death of the West, the title of Pat Buchanan's latest book, has a provocative but very misleading ring to it. Indeed, the author of Right From the Beginning should reissue this new work under the more honest rubric, Wrong From the Start.