Sunday, April 21, 2024

Republicans Seek to Amend Census Rules to Include Only Legal U.S Residents

Republicans claim including that undocumented immigrants in the US Census gives states with large populations of undocumented immigrants an unfair advantage when determining state representation…

Members of the Republican Party have introduced a bill that would change the language of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to specify that only persons who are citizens of the United States should be counted towards determining the number of congressional seats that are allotted to states. The population of states is determined by the results of the Census which occurs every ten years in the United States. Should this proposed amendment be approved by the legislature it would mean that only United States citizens could participate in the United States Census in 2010. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution, ratified in 1868, says representatives to the U.S. House “should be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.”

Michigan Republican Representative Candice Miller has proposed this constitutional amendment to specify that congressional representation “shall be determined by counting the number of persons in each state who are citizens of the United States.” Miller, in reintroducing the amendment last year, said that states with a large number of illegal immigrants are gaining unfair representation in the House. Had her amendment been in place before the 2000 census, Miller said, California would have six fewer seats in the House while New York, Florida and Texas would have one fewer seat. States with fewer undocumented residents, including her own state of Michigan and others such as Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, would have picked up a seat, she said.

This is in tune with the 2008 Republican Party Platform which was revealed last week at their Convention in Minnesota. The platform states:
“The integrity of the 2010 census, proportioning congressional representation among the states, must be preserved,” says the platform language, which is a reinterpretation of the Constitution that could affect how congressional seats are apportioned. “The census,” it says, “should count every person legally abiding in the United States in an actual enumeration.” It goes on to say that “we urge all who are legally eligible to participate in the census count to do so; at the same time, we urge Congress to specify and to constitutionally justify which census questions require a response.”

The last phrase, “we urge Congress to specify and to constitutionally justify which census questions require a response” may hint that certain members of the GOP may seek to include questions in the census that would require people to disclose their legal status when participating in the U.S Census in 2010. A practice that has not previously been used for fear that people will fail to participate. Currently the bureau does not ask questions about legal status. Immigration groups have put the number of illegal immigrants at up to 12 million out of a U.S. population of more than 300 million.

A spokesperson for the U.S Census Bureau did not appear eager to happy to comply with this proclamation. “Our mandate is to count all residents regardless of legal status,” said Mark Tolbert, a spokesman for the Census Bureau. Considering that having to verify citizenship would make the job of the Census Bureau much more difficult it is not surprising they are not exactly ecstatic about this proposal.

Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Hispanic Americans, said Sen. John McCain “has a great track record” on immigration issues but is being undercut by his party’s positions. This proposed census language manages to be both unconstitutional and insulting,” she said.

An amendment like this could be of great significance since it could affect the amount of representation that is appointed to certain states. This announcement comes on the heels of the findings released by United States Census Bureau that revealed that the country is experiencing a boom in Latino population. It seems that this could be a manifestation of the fears that exist in certain wings of the Republican Party that fears that an increase in Latino population is advantageous to the Democratic Party.

Los Angeles Times