Don’t Count Illegal Aliens for the Census

By Phil Kent

The bedrock principle that every voter has an equal voice is outrageously undermined if the U.S. Census Bureau counts everyone physically. Dr. Elizabeth Greico, chief of the Census’s immigration statistics staff, lamely explains that the 2010 census form being used for the nationwide headcount does not ask about citizenship because “Congress has not asked us to do that.”

Counting 15 million-plus illegal immigrants will unquestionably and unconstitutionally increase the number of U.S. House of Representatives members in some states and rob other states of their rightful representation. Remember, congressional districts are drawn by state legislatures and must have an approximately equal number of people living in every district. Also, aside from trying to count in order to adjust congressional districts every 10 years, an accurate tally of citizens in all states also impacts the makeup of the Electoral College— the body that actually elects a president.

Constitutional law professor John Baker of Louisiana State University emphasizes that the first Census Act in 1790 provided that “inhabitants” would be counted. The professor notes that “inhabitant” was a term with a well-defined meaning that encompassed, as the Oxford English Dictionary expressed it, one who is ‘a bona fide member of a state, subject to all the requisitions of its laws, and entitled to all the privileges which they confer.’” Indeed, since the beginning of our republic until the 20th century, census forms questioned citizenship or permanent resident status, e.g. “what state or foreign country were you born in?”

Because every census since 1980 has not distinguished between citizens, legal residents and those who illegally snuck across our borders, apportionment for U.S. House seats has become increasingly problematic. According to 2007 Census Bureau data, states with a significant gain in net population by including non-citizens are Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas.

Baker and Louisiana demographer Elliott Stonecipher estimate that, with about 6 million illegal aliens included, liberal Democrat-dominated California would have a whopping 57 House members in a newly reapportioned Congress. If the illegals weren’t included, California would only have 48. Of course, when one state gains, others lose – and most would be Republican-leaning.

In 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court in Wesberry v. Sanders ruled: “The House of Representatives, the (Constitutional) Convention agreed, was to represent the people as individuals and on a basis of complete equality for each voter.” It ruled that Georgia had violated the equal vote principle because its House districts did not contain roughly the same number of voting citizens. Justice Hugo Black declared for the majority that “one man’s vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another’s.”

That principle is being shamelessly violated in next year’s census. The Democrat-controlled Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibility by giving a wink and a nod to the influx of illegal immigrants “concentrating the power” of voters in California, Texas and a few other states where Democrats seek demographic political advantage over Republicans.

Federal aid is doled out on the basis of population in all 50 states. But that should not trump Justice Black’s constitutional principle.

Why should a few Census bureaucrats stipulate who “We the People” really are? Why should they be allowed to ignore the Constitution by adding congressional seats to states that are magnets for illegal immigration, while penalizing the citizen voters of other states that wisely implement stricter immigration verification and control laws?

Phil Kent of Atlanta is a national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control.