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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Heritage Foundation policy analyst who co-authored a study slamming the Senate immigration bill, is resigning, the conservative group said on Friday, after revelations he once wrote that Hispanic immigrants had a lower IQ than white Americans.
The comments Jason Richwine made in his 2009 Harvard dissertation have overshadowed the Heritage Foundation's immigration study, threatening to undermine its message that the bill would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars.
Four days after the controversial study was released, the conservative think tank issued a short statement on Friday afternoon announcing that Richwine had decided to resign.
"He's no longer employed by Heritage," a spokesman said in an emailed statement. "It is our long-standing policy not to discuss internal personnel matters," he said.
In a summary of his dissertation at Harvard, Richwine said the average IQ of immigrants in the United States was "substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations."
In his dissertation, he wrote, "No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against."
Throughout the week, the Heritage Foundation had tried to deflect criticism of Richwine and said that his Harvard paper was not a work product of the conservative think tank.
It also said Richwine did not shape the methodology or the policy recommendations in the Heritage paper, but provided quantitative support to the lead author.
Richwine was listed as a senior policy analyst in empirical studies on the Heritage Foundation's website.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the committee that is working on the immigration bill, called Richwine's comments racist. "They certainly don't reflect the Latinos I know. They don't reflect the people I've known in the community," he said in an interview with Univision News.
The Heritage Foundation's study has warned that the Senate's proposed path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants would cost $6.3 trillion over the next 50 years, as they gain access to government benefit programs.
The study has been criticized by liberal supporters of immigration reform as well as some conservatives.
Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Peter Cooney