California, Immigration and The U.S. Census

Credit: Alpha Stock Images/Nick Youngson

It seems likely that the Democrats are more afraid of accurate Census reporting in 2020, than they are that some of the millions of foreign citizens in their state shall hide out.  It’s time that we guarantee accurate and fair congressional apportionment by ending manipulation by immigration lawbreaking states.

United States immigration policies are the big news of the day. Immigration is also likely to be the biggest political fight during the November 2018 election.   But why?  Pew Research reported (2015) that, “America’s 46.6 million immigrant population is the largest in the world, and is about four times as large as Germany’s 12 million, the second ranked immigrant nation.”  These data make our country’s immigration policies look pretty friendly.  Yet the Associated Press has implied that these large numbers are not the result of friendly immigration policy and lawmaking.  On February 9, 2017 it reported about 26% of immigrants residing in the United States are here without our Federal government’s approval.

Should Americans be proud or ashamed of our immigration policies? Just a few days ago, On April 4, 2018, the Washington Post accused President Trump of “Pushing his hard line anti-immigration agenda” by enforcing current laws. California Governor Jerry Brown and that state’s legislature (Democrats hold 68% of senate and 70% of state house seats) have taken steps to enforce their point of view.  They have passed new laws that make it illegal for California state, country, and city public officials to obey or even cooperate with other officials trying to enforce United States immigrations laws.  And these are real laws with real jail time.

By taking these actions, Governor Brown and the Democrat party majorities in the legislature are not just going rogue or being mischievous.  They are responding to their constituents.

The PPIC (Public Policy Institute of California) asked the following question in a recent poll: “Do you favor or oppose state and local governments making their own immigration laws separate from the federal government?”  Sixty-five percent of all responders favored such state authority, as did 58% of “likely voters, 83% of Democrats, 53% of independents, but only 21% of Republicans.  Although the support for this option is impressive, its impossibility as public policy demonstrates a staggering lack of the Constitution awareness of the necessity of Federalism in a nation of 51 separate governments.

At the most rudimentary level, it is impossible for California, or any other state, to make-up its own immigration laws is because once across that state’s border, the unscreened citizen of another country can go everywhere else in this country.  There are no border checkpoints or agents patrolling between states, and the US Constitution precludes such internal boundaries.

In the midst of this California “who makes immigration law” confrontation, the United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, issued an order adding the following yes-no question to the 2020 Census: “Are you a citizen of the United States?”  In addition, Mr. Ross stated, “At my direction, the Census Bureau is also working to obtain as many additional federal and state administrative records as possible to provide more comprehensive information for the population.” The Wall Street Journal reported that, “In the past Census workers have not previously used other government records to correct census responses and fill in where residents did not respond.  However, Mr. Ross left the choice of whether to use other government records (to fill in blanks) up to the Census Bureau, and added, in his opinion that past census methods were inadequate to fulfill requests by the Justice Department to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act.”

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have since sued to block this Census directive.  They report their concern, “The citizenship question will prompt all immigrants to shun the census,” and therefore, “unfairly reduce its count, reducing their state’s future share of Federal taxes.”  The last time a citizenship question was on the Census was sixty-eight years ago, so it’s easy to wonder the basis their prediction that Census cooperation will be reduced.  Perhaps some believe that immigrants here illegally know they are law breakers, and distrust the Census statute requirement of individual data confidentiality, and just don’t want the purposeful law breakers to be uncomfortable.

Meantime proponents of the citizenship question and those wanting more accurate data suspect the motives of those opposed, and are asking if the real reason for the litigation is to prevent more accurate data on the number of citizens of other nations that have broken our nation’s laws to reside in the United States.  To understand their suspicion here is a little information about the United States Census.  It’s a short read.  The whole Census guidance is included in just three sentences of Article 1, Section 2, of the Constitution.  The wording for each of these three sentences is as follows (sentence numbering added for clarity, and capitalization added to indicate the major points):

  1. “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.  THE AMOUNT OF TAXES SHARED AND NUMBER OF HOUSE SEATS DEPEND UPON EACH STATES POPULATION.
  2. “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. NEW CENSUS EVERY TEN YEARS.  WHAT INFO GATHERED IS UP TO EXECUTIVE BRANCH.

It is within sentence (3) that the Census and immigration policy establishes each state’s comparative political power within the United States.  And that is the concern of those who demand better data.

Here’s the simple math:  The average number of residents per member of the US House is about 711.  Eliminating the six states with just one member (Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware), the other forty-two states average about 748,000 residents per member.  That means if one state proportionately gains about 700,000 more residents by 2020 than has another state, the slower growing state loses one member of congress, and the faster growing state gains one.  Such population changes are why from the 1950 to the 2010 Census Iowa went from 8 members of the US House to 4, Minnesota went from 9 to 8, while California went from 23 to 53 house seats.  Most have believed such adjustments were objective, not manipulated and therefore fair.  The open orders attitudes of some states have removed that trust.

What if a thorough census disclosed that California has recruited twice as many illegals as the already huge 3.5 million estimated by the Federation for American Immigration Reform?  What if the truth is that there are 7 million illegals, which means California has taken 10 seats from other states as a result of the refusal to enforce United States laws, and perhaps even recruit lawbreakers?  Would it change the entire immigration and debate?  How could it not?

It is not far-fetched to suspect the motives of the California governor, state legislature, and even the entire Democrat party.  Their recent actions have been so in-your-face that they demonstrate a priority for a goal for more power using any means necessary.

Enough is enough.  

Jim Van Houten