This week Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter proposed the 2010 U.S. Census only count legal citizens. The area in which this amendment would have the most impact is on the upcoming reapportionment of Congressional seats.
Vitter attached this language as an amendment to the appropriations bill for the Departments of Commerce and Justice. The bill has been approved by the House, without the Census amended language and is currently under debate in the Senate.
Senator Vitter would require the 2010 Census to ask for citizenship status in their survey. On October 13, Vitter explained his intentions:
Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the single most important thing we use the decennial census for is to reapportion the House of Representatives, to decide how many House Members each State gets. Under the Federal plan, the way the census is designed, the House would be reapportioned counting illegal aliens. States that have large populations of illegals would be rewarded for that. Other States, including my home State of Louisiana, would be penalized.
New analysis released by Andrew A. Beveridge of Queens College shows the winners and losers under this proposal:
|Result of Vitter Proposal||State|
|Lost Congressional seats from current||California (5), New York (1), Illinois (1)|
|No change in Congressional seats from current||Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (each expected to lose one seat)|
|Gain in Congressional seats from current||Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas (each gain one)|
Note: Texas is expected to gain 3 seats, but with the change will only gain one.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest losers in this equation are blue populous blue states while smaller red states have the most to gain.
With a number of recent criticisms of the Census in recent months, it is important to look back to the history of the Census in our nation. A census is as old as America itself. Starting in the early 1600’s colonies counted the number of individuals for purposes of reporting back to England. Later, Benjamin Franklin championed the Census and the inclusion of it in the young nation for purposes of counting the resources available and the growth of the country. With the end of slavery, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution called for a count of “all whole persons” for the purpose of apportioning representation in Congress.
The Constitution does not specify citizenship in it’s clear instruction of the census. The Amendment before the Senate would exclude millions of people that call America home. It would be a step backwards both for the country and the interpretation of the Constitution.