12.02.2020 0

Only legal U.S. residents should count

Supreme Court weighs President Trump’s plan to exclude illegal aliens from apportionment base

By Rick Manning

Illegal aliens in the United States should not be counted for purposes of determining the apportionment of U.S. Representatives to the United States Congress.

It seems absurd that states and localities which actively break immigration laws and directly encourage people to unlawfully enter and reside in their jurisdictions should benefit through having additional power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Yet that is exactly what the Trump administration had to argue against in front of the Supreme Court in a hearing earlier this week. Yes, you read it right, currently a state which encourages illegal immigrants to reside in it benefits by receiving more congressional representation over a state that follows federal immigration law, and the Trump administration has been fighting to change this for the past two-and a half years.

The Constitution requires that the U.S. government conduct a census of the population every ten years. The 2020 Census was just completed. In modern times, this census is, in some instances, used to determine federal apportionment of funding that is distributed back to the states through block grants and other means, chart demographic make-ups of the nation for determining unemployment amongst different ethnic groups, and to determine the need for new schools to be built due to a growing or shrinking population of children and people of child bearing age among other things. It is also used to determine how many congressional representatives and electoral college votes each state will have.

Currently, the number of elected representatives for each state is determined by a simple raw count of people residing in the nation by state, divide the total population by the number of members of the U.S. House of Representatives (435) to determine how many people should be in the average congressional district and then apportion the numbers of representatives by state based upon their population.

Seems simple, except for the fact that states with illegal alien sanctuary policies disproportionately benefit from this system, as their raw number of residents is skewed higher due to these policies.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, citing a 2018 Yale-MIT study, estimated that there are 22.1 million illegal aliens living in the United States in 2020.  With the current U.S. population estimated at 332 million, the average U.S. congressional district in 2022 would have a population of just over 763,000.  However, if those who are in the country against the law were excluded from the total population, then each congressional district’s population would drop to about 713,000.

While a 6.6 percent difference might not seem like much, for a state like Montana, it very well might be the difference between having one representative in the House and two. A July 2020 memorandum from the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross points out, “Current estimates suggest that one State is home to more than 2.2 million illegal aliens, constituting more than 6 percent of the State’s entire population. Including these illegal aliens in the population of the State for the purpose of apportionment could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated.”

The memo further asserts that, “Excluding these illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles representative democracy underpinning our system of Government. Affording congressional representation, and therefore formal political influence, to States on account of the presence within their borders of aliens who have not followed the steps to secure a lawful immigration status under our laws undermines those principles.”

Secretary Ross is exactly right. No one can argue that the impact of the current inclusion of illegal residents into the census for purposes of congressional representation effectively dilutes the representation of those legally residing in those states which have a higher percentage of legal residents.

It is plainly wrong for citizens in states which follow the federal law regarding immigration to be penalized politically in favor of those who flaunt it. Yet that is what happens when our nation apportions our elected representatives without excluding those who are in the country  illegally.

As strange as it may seem, in America 2020, it takes guts to make this obvious point in a court of law, as standing up for equal protection under the law for citizens and those who actually follow the law is ridiculed as racist and worse.

The truth is that no nation can stand when breaking the law is rewarded and following it punished.  It is time for the Supreme Court to have the guts to stand firmly for this basic principle and find that only those who are in the United States legally should be counted for purposes of apportioning members of the House of Representatives.

Rick Manning is President of Americans for Limited Government.

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