Thursday, November 5, 2009

Census To Count Non-Citizens

That's not big news, really. The Census has always counted non-citizens. The very first Census counted slaves, fer cryin' out loud. The Constitution calls for an "actual enumeration" of "persons", which, the Supreme Court has ruled, means everybody, and it has to be an actual count, not a survey augmented by statistical estimation tools.

Today a Senate committee rejected a bill that would have required the Census Bureau to ask people if they are citizens. Some people saw this as a grandstanding play by the GOP, since it is obviously unconstitutional to reapportion the House except by an "actual enumeration" of "persons" - that cannot be changed by legislation, only by Constitutional amendment.

As a result of counting millions of non-citizens, several states would gain or lose Congressional districts. Projections are that after the 2010 Census, California will gain five new House seats, Texas will gain three, and Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Utah will gain one each. Since the number of seats in the House of Representatives is frozen at 435, some states would have to give up seats: Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In my view, this is the biggest problem with our illegal immigration situation: their vast numbers are beginning to erode the mechanism of representative democracy. I'm not comfortable with the Census asking people about their citizenship, either, but it seems to be the lesser of two evils.

Here is a NYT article on it.

And here is the WaPo reporting on the Senate action today.

1 comment:

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Did that proposed amendment ever say "don't count non-citizens." Or was it just another checkbox on the form everyone fills out? It's not like there was multiple choice of A) Citizen B) Resident Alien or C) Illegal Alien either, was there?

If they can ask how many terlets you got, they can ask this. Whether they should ask anything other than names, maybe, is another story.