Last week’s Legislative Update provided details about an amendment filed by Senator David Vitter to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill. (FAIR’s Legislative Update, October 19, 2009). The Vitter amendment would require the Census Bureau to ask questions about citizenship and immigration status as part of the 2010 decennial census. (See The Stein Report, October 19, 2009; for more information on how prior censuses have included questions on citizenship see The Stein Report, October 26, 2009).
The Vitter amendment is very important and brings with it serious implications about a variety of issues. For example, Census data will be used to “apportion” Congressional seats to each state. If non-citizens are used for purposes of Congressional apportionment, Senator Vitter’s office has said that nine states with lower illegal immigration and lower foreign-born populations would end up losing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, while four states would pick those seats up. (CQ Today, October 22, 2009). The implications are that the inclusion of non-citizens for purposes of House apportionment would reduce, or dilute, the political influence of citizens in House elections. FAIR conducted a similar analysis in September 2008 regarding the impact of including non-citizens in the apportionment process. (See FAIR’s Report: Who Represents Illegal Aliens?, September 2008).
In addition, because House apportionment also determines the number of Electoral College votes each state has, the inclusion of non-citizens for apportionment purposes could also determine the outcome of America’s Presidential elections. For example, when nine House seats are given without regard to citizenship, that necessarily takes away nine seats from other states. Accordingly, this could potentially create a swing of 18 electoral votes in a Presidential election. Such a swing would have been more than enough to change the outcome of several recent elections.
Another area where the Census will matter is with respect to the distribution of federal funds under programs based on population. According to the census bureau, state populations are used to determine how nearly $400 billion is allocated in federal spending every year. If the census does not ask citizenship and immigration questions, states with higher illegal alien populations will get more federal funds at the expense of states with lower illegal alien populations. As a result, a few states will get money they shouldn’t, while the vast majority of states will be short-changed out of their fair share. (For a detailed discussion of this issue, listen to FAIR’s October 26, 2009 podcast, here).
Also last week, several Members of the House held a press conference to voice their opposition to the Vitter Amendment, including Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Barbara Lee, (D-CA) and Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA). (CQ Today, October 23, 2009). Velazquez, Honda and Lee are respectively the chairs of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus. The media failed to point out, however, that each of these members were also from either New York or California, which are two of the states that benefit most from the inclusion of non-citizens, including illegal aliens, in the apportionment process.
In this light, it also becomes apparent why Rep. Joe Baca introduced H.R. 3855, the “Every Person Counts Act,” on October 20, 2009. This bill would require including illegal aliens for purposes of the Census. In his press release, Congressman Baca wasn’t shy about the fact that he wants illegal aliens to skew Congressional apportionment, Presidential elections and Federal funding in favor of his home state of California. Baca said that census data (1) “determines the allotment of federal funding” and (2) is “absolutely necessary for [determining] Congressional representation and Electoral College figures.” (Rep. Baca’s Press Release, October 21, 2009).
If you want to help ensure the Vitter amendment is adopted by the Senate, please see FAIR’s Action Alert to see what you can do to make a difference.