Friday, November 6, 2009

The Undocummented and Congressional Redistricting.

Preparations for the 2010 census are proceeding with haste. One of the most visible effects of the decennial census is the reapportionment of the seats from the house of Representative among the states.
California is already the most populace state in the union with 53 House of Representatives seats. Texas is the second largest with 32 seats followed by NY that claims a net total number of 29 seats. The fourth most populace state is Florida with 25 seats. So how is any of this connected to undocumented immigrants and the census?
The census counts all those that live in the United States but does not differentiate between citizens and non citizens or legal and illegal residents. That is why many of the Republican members of the House of Representatives have been on a mission to force the upcoming census to ask residents whether they are US citizens or not. As you might have already guessed the motivation for such efforts is far from being purely an interest in the truth. California and New York attract almost fifty percent of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants and since these two states are overwhelmingly democratic then it behooves the Republicans to prevent the Democrats from gaining any “unearned” and “undeserved” advantage over the more “patriotic” and” jingoistic” Republican nativists.
The Bennet-Vitter amendment was defeated today in a vote totally along party lines. All the 58 Democrats voted to reject including the citizenship question on the census forms while each of the 39 Republicans voted to include the question, the two left leaning independents voted with the Democrats. Senator Bennett vowed to continue the fight but it looks very highly unlikely that he would succeed. The Department of Commerce has already sent the forms out for printing and the census is to start by March.
So how big could the discrepancy from this potential miscount be? Here is my rough back of the envelope estimate. Based on an estimated population of approximately 309,000,000 for the country then each congressional districts represents approximately 708,000 US residents. If we are to assume that the 10 million undocumented immigrants are distributed essentially among five states as such: California 4.0 million; NY 2.0 million; Texas 1.6 million; Florida 1.3 million and NJ 1.1 and if one is to assume that California and NY are safe Democratic states while Texas is a safe Republican state while Florida and NJ are to be split between the two parties then it becomes obvious that all this fuss is a big ado about nothing. The greatest potential windfall for the Democratic Party is not more than 2 seats out of the 435 voting seats in the House.


  1. Let's say I thought immigration was a problem that was infringing on american society. What exactly would this type of legislation do for working towards solving it? To me, this seems like an attempt to obtain more legislative power, and an attempt to further separate this nation along party lines. There seems to be a whole lot of much ado about nothing going on, a whole lot of steam constantly being blown around in order to further the vision of immigrants as criminals. Doesn't the house have something else to spend their time voting on; saying something like bringing the troops home finally? or helping the fact that the unemployment rate is 10.2? I have a feeling our priorities are way out of wack-at least the priorities of the nation; personal and career priorities seem to be perfectly in order.


  2. If citizenship were on the 2010 census, what would be the actual purpose of it? To incriminate those who are illegally here? If this is a way to highlight those who are undocumented and punish them, I do not agree with the coercive actions. When we look to the census, we are just counting the individuals presently living in the country and for the government to abuse their power to do a job that they need to figure out how to do beyond being sneaky is misuse of a useful tool.

  3. I have to say that i agree with the above two comments in the sense that this is just another way for government officials to abuse their power and use their authority negativley. I think that is so absurd that illegal citizens would not be included in the census. Isn't the purpose of a census to count the amount of individuals living in a certain area? If we are not counting the number of illegal immigrant living in our country then we are leaving out a huge chunk of the population that actually live here. Therefore without counthing these people, the census will be innaccurate, then whats the point? I agree with Olivia when she says that there are alot of bigger issues that we should be focusing on.

  4. Amanda,
    I must stress that the Census data cannot be used by any other governmental agency because the gathered data will not be shared. Does this mean that there will be no harassment? Not exactly since the immigrants themselves will feel intimidated and so will not participate in the census.
    In my mind, not to count the undocumented will be unconstitutional. I do not see the grounds on which anyone can argue convincingly that it was the intention of the Constitutional writers that only citizens be counted. I have never been a fan of hermeneutics.

  5. It's sad to say, but I honestly can't say that I have trust in our government at this point. There are many sneaky acts committed in order to "benefit" our country. Who's to say that they will not use that information for other purposes? They may say they won't, but there's an alibi for everything...

  6. If the sensus were to ask if the person filing it out were legal or illegal, the results would not be factual. If someone is here illegally they are not going to offer this information up very easily because of the fear of deportation. The census is one of the most important tools our government has for tax purposes, number of representatives, quantatative data for research and a host of other things. The purpose of the census is not to see weather a person is legal or illegal herefore legislation such as this is simply a waste of time and another attempt to derail America from the things that seriously need to be discussed: healthcare, warfare and education.--VINNIE