Alabama Congressman Sues Census Bureau Over Counting Illegal Aliens
By Heather Ham-Warren | May 25, 2018
Earlier this year, Congress allocated over $2.8 billion to the U.S. Census Bureau to pad the Bureau’s budget as they prepare for the 2020 Census. The census is a constitutionally mandated population count taken every ten years, which determines the distribution and shape of congressional seats. Shortly before the spending bill, the Department of Commerce announced that the Bureau would include a question on the 2020 Census asking whether respondents are U.S. citizens.
Almost immediately, many open borders groups came out against the announcement as being unfair and unnecessary; and several activist groups and states filed lawsuits to fight inclusion of the citizenship question. This week, however, a lawsuit was filed against the Trump administration that made an entirely different argument. The state of Alabama, joined with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s current practice of counting illegal aliens in its official population numbers.
Congressional apportionment ensures that all states are apportioned a number of seats in the House of Representatives that approximately corresponds to its share of the aggregate population of the country. Following the decennial census, the Clerk of the House of Representatives notifies each state of their allotted number of seats. However, because the current number of voting members is set at 435, should any state’s population increase enough to warrant an additional vote, it would have to be taken from another state.
Estimates show that some states will undoubtedly benefit for the addition of illegal aliens in their census counts. According to FAIR research:
- Texas, with an estimated 2,482,000 illegal aliens, would pick up three seats (39 total);
- Florida, with an estimated 1,279,000 illegal aliens, would gain two seats (29); and
- California, with an estimated 3,535,000 illegal aliens, will likely hold at 53 seats, or perhaps even gain one.
On the other hand, should the census both legal and illegal residents—as it does now— Alabama will lose both a congressional seat and an Electoral College vote to more populous states.
Rep. Brooks announced the lawsuit Tuesday morning before his colleagues on the House floor. He said, “The state of Alabama and I challenge the legality of the Department of Commerce’s ‘residence rule,’ which counts everyone including illegal aliens in America’s population account. If the roughly 15 million illegal aliens…were dispersed throughout the United States in equal proportion to each state’s population, than no state would be disadvantaged in congressional representation…However, the difference in illegal population states is dramatic.” The Congressman continued, “Re-apportionment of House seats and electoral votes is a zero sum proposition. One state’s gain is another states loss…The 14th amendment [of the U.S. Constitution] protects the right of citizens to fair and equal representation.”
The Congressman is undoubtedly correct. A census that properly distinguishes between legal and illegal residents would provide policymakers reliable data about how many noncitizens are living in our country. Additionally, states that choose to ignore federal immigration laws should not be rewarded with additional votes in the federal legislative body. Equal representation is a promise made to United States citizens—not those who broke our laws.
To view the plaintiffs’ complaint, please click here.
To hear Rep. Brooks’ statement, please click here.