Census Needs 20/20 Vision on Illegal Aliens
President Donald Trump has directed that the 2020 Census exclude illegal aliens from the official count that determines congressional apportionment for the next decade.
Naturally,immigration lobbyists and the left are aghast.
Themigrant-advocacy group CASA and the American Civil Liberties Union have vowedto sue. WashingtonPost editorialistsdeclared Trump’s plan is “doomed to fail.”
TheMigration Policy Institute (MPI) noted, “Thisis the first time that the [apportionment] count would be limited toU.S. citizens and lawfully present noncitizens.”
Accordingto the Constitution, “[Congressional] Representativesshall be apportioned among the several States according to their respectivenumbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state.” But, as MPIpoints out, “the Constitution does notspecifically define which persons must be included in the apportionment base.”
The Pew Research Center recently projected that if illegal aliens were excluded, California would lose two seats instead of one, Florida would gain one instead of two, and Texas would gain two instead of three.
Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio wouldlose seats in a Census that includes illegal aliens. Simply reporting”total population change” — making no distinction between legal andillegal residents — effectively rewards states with high numbers of illegalaliens.
While not disputing Pew’s findings, MPI asserts that Trump’s order could incorrectly lead to some 20 million U.S. citizens lumped in with illegal aliens due to possible “matching errors.” Note the qualifier “could.”
To besure, numerous logistical challenges (not to mention a pandemic) complicate anyheadcount in a nation of more than 330 million people. The one sure bet is that100 percent accuracy is impossible. But basing congressional delegations onnumbers known to include illegal aliens is 100 percent wrong.
On principle, and as a matter of law, drawing a distinction between legal U.S. citizens and illegal aliens is common sense. FAIR believes that distributing congressional seats according to illegally present individuals who cannot vote is utter nonsense.
Without knowing the tools available to the Census, MPI and partisan critics engage in unhelpful speculation while demonstrating little or no interest in the facts. Though the Supreme Court last year barred the Census from asking respondents if they are U.S. citizens, the administration is allowed to collect information on citizenship status by other means.
Congresslong ago delegated the decennial Census to the executive branch. The Trumpadministration is correct in saying that the integrity of the democraticprocess warrants exclusion of illegal aliens “to the extent feasible andto the maximum extent of the president’s discretion under the law.”