Selected news coverage of
Remaking the Political Landscape
The Impact of Illegal and Legal Immigration
on Congressional Apportionment
By Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Steven A. Camarota,
and Amanda K. Baumle
The Wall Street Journal
CNN -- Lou Dobbs Tonight (Transcript)
The Houston Chronicle
Cox News Service
Scripps Howard News Service
The Charlotte Observer
The Raleigh News and Observer
The Missoulian (Missoula, Mont.)
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colo.)
Illegal aliens help states gain clout
Study claims census count skews apportionment process, especially for California
By Marjorie Valbrun
The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2003
Illegal immigrants can't vote or contribute to campaigns, but they wield
considerable yet little-noticed political clout by shifting congressional seats
to California at the expense of other states.
That's the conclusion of a study to be released Thursday by the Center for
Immigration Studies, a Washington organization that favors tougher immigration
The report argues that because the census counts all residents, including people
here illegally, the congressional apportionment process is skewed in favor of
states with the most illegal immigrants. That also tilts power in presidential
elections, since the Electoral College is based largely on House seats. Counting
all noncitizens, legal and illegal, skews the figures even further, they say.
Based on federal immigration estimates, the group figures that 6.6 million
illegal aliens were counted in the 2000 census. If they hadn't been, the study
argues, California would have three fewer seats in the House, and North Carolina
would have one less. North Carolina's small illegal immigrant population was
just enough to put it over the cusp of gaining a seat.
Those seats came at the expense of Indiana, Michigan and Mississippi, which each
lost a seat, and Montana, which would have gained a seat had illegal aliens not
been counted, the report says.
The inclusion of all noncitizens in the census, including people here legally,
gave the four most immigrant-heavy states nine seats they otherwise wouldn't
have gotten -- six for California and one each for Florida, New York and Texas.
North Carolina would just barely miss gaining a seat under this scenario.
"Low-immigration states that might seem unaffected by immigration are in fact
experiencing a significant erosion of their political influence," the report
The report attempts to quantify the impact of counting noncitizens -- the
subject of a long-running, oft-litigated controversy. Immigrant-heavy states
long have complained that such residents are undercounted, decreasing their
share of population-based federal grants. They argue for statistically adjusting
the census to compensate -- a politically charged solution that would, in
effect, shift money to Democratic-leaning districts. The Bush administration
rejected the idea.
On the other side, advocates of tougher immigration policies at the Federation
for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) sued unsuccessfully to stop the
government from including illegal aliens in the 1980 and 1990 census results. In
the latter case, 42 House members joined FAIR's suit, but a federal judge called
their complaints about shifting seats "sheer speculation."
Neutral experts and immigrant advocate groups don't dispute the report's
underlying premise, though they say they cannot vouch for the report's specific
conclusions about winner and loser states.
"For better or worse, this is the constitutional arrangement we have chosen to
live by," says Demetrios Papademetriou, co-director of the Migration Policy
Institute, which opposes restrictive immigration policies. "We're counting
persons based not on legal status, but on being natural persons."
Unlike FAIR, the report's authors don't advocate excluding illegal immigrants
from the census. They say it would be impractical. The census counts all
residents, but noncitizen totals are actually estimates based on a citizenship
question asked of only 15% of the population. If everybody were asked their
citizenship status, so noncitizens could be excluded from the apportionment
process, many might lie, the report suggests. Such a move also would be
complicated by residences that include a mixture of citizens and legal and
Excluding noncitizens would require congressional approval, sparking stiff
resistance from immigrant-heavy states. Even if Congress approved, years of
litigation likely would follow over whether excluding noncitizens violated the
Constitution. It requires "counting the whole number of persons in each State,
excluding Indians not taxed."
"If you want to avoid this problem, you have to enforce the law and reduce
illegal immigration ," says Steven Camarota, the center's research director.
B. Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at Georgetown University's
Institute for the Study of International Migration, says there may be another
logical argument for including illegal aliens: fairness to their neighbors.
"Adverse impacts of unauthorized migration are felt at the local level,
particularly in infrastructure and schooling costs," he says. "By granting extra
representation to unauthorized-heavy regions, do its legal residents get,
perhaps, the additional clout they deserve?"
The study says the additional clout is considerable. House candidates in the
nine low-immigration states that lost a seat had to capture at least 101,000
votes each to win in 2002, the study says. House candidates in California could
win with as few as 68,000 votes, because so many residents are illegal aliens
ineligible to vote. The study suggests that may violate the "one man, one vote"
principle. "The votes of American citizens living in low-immigration districts
count much less than those of citizens living in high-immigration districts,"
the report says.
The report points to the California's 31st District, where 43% of the residents
are noncitizens and it takes as few as 34,000 votes to win a congressional seat.
The district's congressman, Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, sees nothing wrong
there. "I think the Constitution had it right, and the forefathers had it
right," he said. "At the end of the day, everyone who comes to this country has
a right to have representation."
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
CNN, October 23, 2003 Thursday
Transcript # 102300CN.V19
LOU DOBBS: We have reported extensively on this show
about the benefits that illegal aliens enjoy in this country. There are now, as
we said, an estimated 10 million illegal aliens in the United States. And their
presence obviously affects government policy, our society and culture. They are
also altering political power in this country, influencing congressional
districts in which they live by gaining representation in Congress.
Lisa Sylvester has the report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every 10 years, a new census
means some states will gain congressional seats and others will lose them. One
factor influencing the number is the presence of illegal aliens. They can't
vote, but they are counted. That means states with a high number of illegal get
more congressional seats.
STEVEN CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The political influence
of a state in Washington is partly dependent on the size of that state's
delegation. Thus, illegal immigration is not just redistributing, in the
abstract, seats. It's actually redistributing political power.
SYLVESTER: California is a major winner, picking up six seats because of the
presence of illegal aliens and other noncitizens, including people on student or
work visas. Other states that gained: Texas, Florida and New York, each gaining
an additional seat.
Seats were siphoned away from Montana, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Michigan,
Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. How can this happen? Well, this
is the system laid out by the Constitution, which requires counting every
DEMETRIOS PAPADEMETRIOU, MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE: Essentially, they are
members of the community. Whether we like it or not, they contribute to the
labor market. They contribute through their social activities. And, at the same
time, they use the services that every community and state and city provide.
SYLVESTER: But votes count more in certain congressional districts, those with
heavy immigrant populations that have fewer eligible voters relative to the
total population. In two California districts, it takes fewer than 35,000 votes
to win, vs. 100,000 votes needed to win in a state like Pennsylvania.
DAN STEIN, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Political subdivisions,
political districts are shifted to states to give representation to illegal
aliens, at the expense of U.S. citizens, five-, six-, seven-generation American
citizens losing congressional representation to people who have crashed our
borders. That's not fair.
SYLVESTER: Only two things can be done fix this, a constitutional amendment --
not an easy thing to do -- or a change in the immigration policy -- Lou.
DOBBS: Lou, obviously a change in immigration policy is not easy either. Is this
trend, then, likely to continue?
SYLVESTER: It is, indeed. You have a million and a half immigrants and illegal
aliens entering into the country every year, so you can project out into the
future that, as we go on, this will have an even greater impact on congressional
district seats -- Lou.
DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.
Illegal Immigrants Affect Congressional
Fox News, October 26, 2003
(Fox News includes a video report at the bottom of their page.)
LOS ANGELES — Even though the law doesn't allow them to vote,
illegal immigrants are changing the landscape of the U.S. government — and
affecting the census' depiction of the population.
Four states, including California, gained congressional seats
because of an immigration increase and nine states, including Montana, either
lost or failed to gain seats, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
In California, the 31st District was created after the 2000 Census showed a
major population increase, even though nearly half of those living there aren't
Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, the U.S. congressman for the 31st District, said
his constituents still pay taxes and contribute to society.
"An individual doesn't have to be a citizen to pay taxes — you pay taxes if you
work in this country, you pay taxes if you purchase something," he said.
But those like Montana's only U.S. congressman, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg,
said the illegal immigrants skew the congressional delegation.
"They cheat us, frankly, and it is the cheating that gives us
underrepresentation," he said.
Count on It
Non-citizens - even illegal aliens - are included in the Census. Think this
affects the political system?
By John J. Miller
National Review, December 8, 2003
Nobody in the House of Representatives has more constituents than Denny Rehberg.
With some 900,000 people in his district — which encompasses the whole state of
Montana — his population base is almost 50 percent larger than that of the
typical House member. To complicate matters further, only Don Young of Alaska
represents a larger geographical area. "It's a real balancing act," says Rehberg,
a Republican. "I find that there're three sides to every two-sided issue."
It would be a lot easier representing all of these citizens if congressmen
actually represented citizens. But they don't, or at least not
exclusively. Under the current rules of apportionment, the 435 House seats are
divvied up on the basis of the total number of people living in each state — not
just citizens, but also non-citizens and even illegal aliens. It's hard to
believe: People whose very presence in the United States is against the law are
granted formal representation in Washington.
This is the root cause of Rehberg's predicament. Montana doesn't have a second
congressional seat because so many illegal aliens live in places like
California, which receives three extra representatives for the 2 million illegal
aliens who call it home. And Montana isn't the only loser in the zero-sum game
of congressional apportionment. Indiana, Michigan, and Mississippi are also shy
a seat in the House because of illegal aliens residing elsewhere, according to a
new report by the Center for Immigration Studies.
Most Americans don't realize that their democracy redistributes political power
based on the settlement patterns of illegal aliens and other non-citizens. But
these changes are significant enough to shuffle around a bunch of seats in the
House of Representatives and perhaps even alter the outcome of a presidential
election. If the next race for the White House is as close as the last one, it's
possible that the federal government's practice of treating illegal aliens the
same as citizens for purposes of apportionment will wind up costing George W.
Bush the presidency.
The 2000 Census counted 18.5 million non-citizens, including an estimated 7
million illegal aliens. If these people were evenly distributed around the
country, they would have no impact on how House seats are assigned. But
immigrants tend to cluster in ethnic communities. Nearly 30 percent of America's
non-citizens live in California, for example, compared with 12 percent of the
total U.S. population. These non-citizens — most of them legal immigrants — are
enough to boost the Golden State's congressional delegation by six whole
members. Florida, New York, and Texas also gain one extra seat apiece because of
their large non-citizen populations. Nine states lose out: Indiana, Kentucky,
Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Aside from the compelling matter of principle involved, these apportionment
schemes distort our politics in other ways: Democrats benefit. That's because
non-citizen apportionment allows the creation of congressional districts full of
people who don't have the right to vote — and Democrats almost always win in
these places. Consider California's 31st congressional district, where 41
percent of the inhabitants are non-citizens. Last year, Xavier Becerra — one of
the most left-wing members of Congress — carried it by attracting fewer than
55,000 votes, despite its population of 639,000. In many congressional
districts, the winner needs two times this level of support. Steve Sailer of UPI
crunched the numbers for California's whole delegation: In the eight districts
won by Hispanics (all Democrats), an average of 80,000 voters went to the polls.
In the other 45 districts, an average of 143,000 turned out — that's 79 percent
Racial gerrymandering compounds the problem. About 40 percent of the country's
Hispanics are not citizens; packing as many of them as possible into single
districts creates conglomerations of people who can't pick their
representatives. In 18th-century England, parliamentary constituencies that had
dwindled to just a handful of voters were labeled "rotten boroughs." Non-citizen
apportionment has delivered something very much like this to our own shores,
though we might call them "rotten barrios."
Their corrupting influence may one day reach to the presidential level. Here's
an illustration of what may be at stake, based on the fact that a state's
electoral votes are the sum of its two senators and the number of its House
members. In the 2000 election, Bush earned 271 electoral votes to Al Gore's 267.
If any of the states in Bush's column had gone the other way — including New
Hampshire (4 electoral votes) or traditionally Democratic West Virginia (5) —
we'd now be in the third year of the Gore administration.
Looking ahead, let's assume that Bush carries the same 30 states in 2004 as he
did in 2000. Because this will be the first election following the 2000 Census
reapportionment, Bush would collect 278 electoral votes from this same set of
states. If both New Hampshire and West Virginia were to defect, Bush would most
likely retire to his ranch in Crawford. But let's assume further that illegal
aliens weren't counted in apportionment. In this scenario, Democrat-friendly
California surrenders a bit of its political clout to Bush-country states like
Indiana and Mississippi. The president's 30-state victory would earn him 280
electoral votes. Suddenly he could afford to lose both New Hampshire and West
Virginia and still secure a second term. Because of illegal-alien apportionment,
however, Bush now must prevail in at least one of these states (or replace their
electoral votes with fresh wins elsewhere).
On the surface, this doesn't look like a tough problem to solve. Why not just
quit counting illegal aliens for apportionment? In 1989, the Senate actually
passed a bill that would have excluded illegal aliens from apportionment
calculations. In the House, Tom Ridge — then a Republican congressman from
Pennsylvania, now secretary of homeland security — offered a similar measure.
Democrats defeated it. If Ridge had been successful, however, it might not have
mattered: The (first) Bush administration was threatening a veto because of the
huge bureaucratic headache the law would have created just months before the
decennial Census was scheduled to occur.
What's more, the states with large non-citizen populations want these non-voters
to count toward apportionment, since it increases their political power. And
when a state the size of California squares off against the likes of Montana in
a clash of political interests, might usually equals right. "The result is a
system in which states have a perverse incentive to attract immigrants,
including illegal ones," says Noah Pickus of North Carolina's Institute for
Even if the political difficulties were surmounted and Congress altered
apportionment calculations, however, legal hurdles would remain. The Fourteenth
Amendment calls for apportioning representatives based on "the whole number of
persons" in each state. Defenders of the status quo insist that this means
everybody must count, regardless of his citizenship. They also like to point out
that the Constitution previously has recognized the representation of the
disenfranchised: Before the Civil War, each slave counted as three-fifths of a
person. Yet this is a spurious claim. While it's true that being counted as
fractional persons was an indignity to blacks, they would have been better off
not being counted at all: It was the southern states, not the northern ones,
that wanted their non-voting human property to count in apportionment schemes,
as it boosted their political power.
Today, apportionment doesn't really include everybody. Foreign tourists,
business travelers, and diplomats don't count, even if they're in the United
States on the day the Census is taken. Yet counting illegal aliens has become
the standard operating procedure, and so anything that upsets it would produce a
flock of messy lawsuits.
It's not realistic to hope that any of this can be corrected before next year —
though making a change in time for the 2010 Census is probably achievable.
Between now and then, the case for reform will only grow more convincing, as the
non-citizen population continues to grow in the absence of major immigration
reforms. "I wouldn't be surprised to see the next Census capture 2 million
foreign students," says Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies.
"A whole congressional district could move from one state to another simply
because of foreigners pursuing degrees at American universities."
Of course, nothing will stop this unless a political leader decides to make a
stand against non-citizen or illegal-alien apportionment. It won't be
Congressman Rehberg. "I'm focused on a lot of other issues right now," he says.
"Besides, they can't take away any more of Montana's seats."
Immigrants skew states' political clout, critics say
By Julie Mason
The Houston Chronicle, October 24, 2003
WASHINGTON -- Counting illegal immigrants in the last census shifted political
clout to states like California at the expense of low-immigration states
elsewhere, according to a new report by immigration policy experts.
The Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank that favors
curbing immigration, claims in a recent study that four states lost seats in
Congress as a result of illegal immigration.
"Many low-immigration states that might seem unaffected by immigration are in
fact experiencing a significant erosion of their political influence in
Washington," the report said.
The Constitution requires the Census Bureau every 10 years to count the
population for the purpose of allotting seats in the U.S. House of
Representatives. Critics of those who would exclude immigrants from that count
note that many pay taxes and participate in the civic life of their communities.
The number of House seats allotted to each state is based on population. As a
result, states with growing populations of immigrants -- such as Texas,
California and New York -- gained additional seats in the House of
Representatives following the 2000 Census.
Since the number of House seats is fixed at 435, those additions came at the
expense of other states -- Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana, the
study's authors conclude.
"Immigration takes away representation from states composed almost entirely of
U.S. citizens and results in the creation of new districts in states with large
numbers of noncitizens," the report said.
The debate over whether to count illegal immigrants in the census has been
bitter and long-running. Around the time of the 2000 Census, the issue was
particularly intense in Texas, which has a thriving population of immigrants
both legal and otherwise.
In addition to undocumented immigrants, the census counts prison inmates and
children -- all of whom are not permitted to vote. Nearly 7 million illegal
immigrants were counted in the last census.
Including illegal immigrants in the tally creates "tension" in the one-man,
one-vote principle of democracy, the authors argue, because in immigrant-heavy
districts with few actual voters, elections are decided by a limited number of
And therein lies a key flaw behind the immigration think tank's reasoning, said
Jeff Passell, an immigration expert at the Urban Institute, a Washington-based
social-policy research organization.
Since the allotment of congressional seats is based on population and not
voters, Passell said, an argument over whether to count illegal immigrants is
"This issue has been decided in the courts," Passell said. "The law doesn't say
that congressional districts should have the same number of voters; it says they
should have the same number of people. And the last I heard, undocumented
immigrants are people."
Even the authors of the study conclude that changing the law would mean a
divisive and difficult debate in Congress, and excluding illegal immigrants from
the census would be "impractical."
According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. population grew to 284.8 million in
July 2001, up from 281.4 million in April 2000. Thirteen percent of the
population is Hispanic, 12.7 percent is black, and 4 percent is Asian.
Hispanics make up the nation's largest minority group. The Census Bureau
released a report in June that found the Hispanic population stood at 38.8
million, an increase of almost 9 percent in the two years ending July 2002. That
was four times the growth rate for the U.S. population overall and about 14
times greater than the rate for non-Hispanic whites.
Texas, with 7.3 million Hispanics, is second to California, whose 11.9 million
Hispanic residents make up about one-third of its total population. New York is
third, followed by Florida and Illinois.
Illegal residents boost state's
representation in U.S. House
California benefiting more than any other in the United States
By Julia Malone, Cox News Service
The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune, October 24, 2003
WASHINGTON -- The recent influx of illegal immigrants has changed the makeup of
the U.S. House of Representatives, giving California three new seats as North
Carolina added one, a study has found.
The Center for Immigration Studies found that the nation's system of
reapportioning the House by a Census count of all residents, whether they are
legal or not, rewards states with the most illegal immigrants while penalizing
Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana each lost a congressional seat as a
result of illegal immigration elsewhere, the study said.
The redistribution of House seats is evidence that historic immigration flows
are having "a very significant impact on the political landscape," said Steve
Camarota, a co-author of the study and research director for the research group,
which favors a reduction in immigration.
Among other findings released Wednesday:
The growing numbers of all non-citizens -- both legal and illegal -- prompted
nine House seats to change states after the 2000 Census. The population trend
was responsible for six of California's new seats as well as one each for Texas,
Florida and New York. The "loser" states were Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi,
Montana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin.
Some congressional districts have so many non-citizens and so few voters that it
takes less than 35,000 votes to win an election, compared to almost 100,000
votes in a typical district. The Los Angeles district of Rep. Lucille
Roybal-Allard, a Democrat, has a population that is 43 percent non-citizen. In
South Florida, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Republican, represents a constituency
that is 28 percent non-citizen.
Despite efforts to naturalize newcomers, the number of non-citizens increased
dramatically to 18.5 million in 2000, up from just under 12 million in 1990.
The findings also point to a potential partisan effect, said Dudley L. Poston
Jr., a sociology professor at Texas A&M University and a co-author of the study.
He said that states that were in the Republican column in the last presidential
election would have gained nine seats without the impact of immigration.
However, the most provocative finding, said Camarota, was that states with high
rates of citizens are losing representatives to states with high rates of
"I think most people recognize that one of the key defining features of our
political system is that it's supposed to represent only people who are supposed
to be here," he said. "I think people would be shocked to find out that that is
not the case."
Jeff Passel, an immigration specialist at the Urban Institute, a liberal
research group, said the system is working as it was designed.
"The purpose of the House of Representatives is not to represent citizens or
voters but to represent people," he said.
The aim has always been to draw districts that are equal in population size, not
necessarily voter numbers, he said, pointing out that women were counted long
before they were given the vote.
Even so, he said it was unfortunate that federal courts have never ruled on the
issue of whether citizens' votes are being diluted by illegal residents.
Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., who is leading an effort to crack down on illegal
immigration, called the study "very troubling, but sadly, not surprising."
He blamed "safe havens" in several cities, such as Houston, Los Angeles and New
York, where police are discouraged from helping to enforce immigration laws.
"We have no business paying these cities to do a job they won't do and then
permitting a flawed census collection process to silence the political voice of
legal residents -- only to hand it over to illegal and criminal aliens," Norwood
Report: Immigration levels cost Republicans 9 House seats in
By Steve Brown
Cybercast News Service, October 24, 2003
The heavy influx of immigrants cost the
Republican Party nine House seats during the 2000 political redistricting
process, according to a report released Thursday. At least one of those seats
was lost as a result of illegal aliens being counted as part of the national
population by the U.S. Census Bureau, the report's authors said.
report, "Remaking the Political Landscape: The Impact of Illegal and Legal
Immigration on Congressional Apportionment," was compiled by the
Center for Immigration Studies
(CIS). It examined the redistribution of House seats as a result of immigration.
The nation's 435 U.S. House seats are distributed among the states based on the
census results every 10 years, with each state automatically getting at least
one constitutionally mandated seat.
For example, as millions of Americans have left northern states for warmer
climates in the south, those southern states have gained more seats. The influx
of illegal aliens and other non-citizens has also affected congressional
reapportionment since census takers count those individuals as well.
Dudley Poston, a Texas A&M sociology professor and author of the CIS report,
examined how congressional seats would have been reapportioned if the Census
Bureau had not counted naturalized American citizens, legal permanent residents
(green card holders), illegal aliens and those on long-term temporary visas.
"If we do this, there's a 16-seat change (among the states) in the 2000
apportionment. California loses nine of its 53 seats. This means that nine of
its 53 seats are attributable to its immigrant population," Poston said. It
could actually be more than nine, Poston said, since some immigrants end up
bearing children in the United States who are not considered foreign-born. "So
California is the big winner," he said.
Poston then turned to the partisan implications by designating states Republican
or Democrat based on the 2000 presidential election results - the big red and
"If the foreign-born were excluded, the Republicans would gain nine seats,"
Steven Camorata, CIS director of research, added: "The nine seats redistributed
by non-citizens has a very serious effect when one considers that only a total
of 12 seats in their entirety changed hands in 2000."
Poston used state estimates prepared by the Immigration and Naturalization
Service, which indicated that nearly 7 million illegal aliens were counted in
the 2000 Census. The illegal alien population, which Poston said is heavily
concentrated in just three states - California, Florida and New York - resulted
in the creation of at least one new Democratic-dominated congressional district
and at the expense of the Republican Party.
The report did not pinpoint a particular district that Democrats, traditionally
the favorite party of illegal aliens, seized from Republicans. Rather, the
combination effect of the illegal population in America produced the GOP loss of
at least one seat, according to the report.
"Illegal immigration also has a significant effect on presidential elections
because the Electoral College is based on the size of congressional
delegations," the CIS study indicated.
According to the report, many low-immigration states that might seem unaffected
by immigration experience "significant voter erosion" of their political
influence in Washington.
"Taking away representation from states composed almost entirely of U.S.
citizens so that new districts can be created in states with large numbers of
non-citizens makes immigrant-induced reapportionment very different from
reapportionment caused when natives relocate to other states," Camorata pointed
Of the nine states that lost a seat in 2000, only one in 50 residents is a
non-citizen, the report revealed. By contrast, one out of every seven California
residents is a non-citizen and six of the nine seats redistributed due to
non-citizens went to California.
These findings, Poston suggested, might spur a movement among the public and
lawmakers to revise the method of census taking.
"The exclusion of illegal immigrants may well be the scenario most likely to
gain popular support and spark a legal challenge," Poston said.
The report noted that the Supreme Court has never addressed the substantive
legal arguments surrounding the exclusion of illegal aliens in the census. The
Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR) filed two lawsuits
challenging the Census Bureau's methodology of counting illegal aliens, but both
suits were dismissed. In the latter suit, plaintiffs included 40 members of
Congress and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
"Trying to deal with this problem by excluding non-citizens, illegal or legal,
would be very difficult politically and is probably impossible as a practical
matter," Camorata concluded.
According to Noah Pickus, the director of North Carolina's Institute for
Emerging Issues and a participant in Thursday's panel discussion, the findings
lend credence to the notion that states have a "perverse" incentive to attract
larger populations of illegal aliens, which "undermines the very notion" of
representative democracy on which the country was founded.
"The country faces a choice: either continue to have record amounts of illegal
immigration and therefore continue to redistribute seats away from states
comprised mostly of American citizens to states with large numbers of illegal
and legal immigrants, or better enforce immigration laws so as to reduce if not
eliminate illegal immigration," Camorata said.
Immigrants affect congressional
representation, report says
By Kemberly Gong
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, October 24, 2003
WASHINGTON - Immigration can decrease the political power of
some states, according to a report released Thursday.
The Center for Immigration Studies, which favors
limits on immigration, said both illegal and legal immigration affect
The study said states such as Texas, California
and Florida have more congressional representation because of higher numbers of
Congressional apportionment, or the division of
state population to determine how many members a state will have in the House of
Representatives, occurs every 10 years, after the census. All residents are
counted, even non-citizens.
According to the study, Texas gained one new
congressional seat in 2001 because of higher populations reported in the 2000
Census. It also gained a seat after the 1990 Census.
Gains like these are unfair to other states that
don't have high levels of immigration, such as Indiana or Michigan, said the
study's co-author, Steven A. Camarota, of the CIS.
"Immigration takes away representation from
states composed almost entirely of U.S. citizens, so new districts can be
created in states with large non-citizen populations," he said.
Camarota said that, because non-citizens can't
vote in congressional elections, citizens who live in districts with many
non-citizens have more political clout than people who live in districts with
very few non-citizens.
Dudley L. Poston, one of the study's authors and
a sociology professor at Texas A&M University, said that more than 10 percent of
U.S. residents are foreign born. CIS estimated the illegal immigrant population
at 7 million people.
Though he agreed that immigration levels hurt
political representation in states with lower immigrant levels, Poston said in
an interview that a shift of immigrants out of the state would have economic
"If you reduced illegal immigration, it would
have a big impact on Texas because of the reliance of the state economy on
workers," Poston said. "These are jobs that native Texans and legally resident
Texans don't want to do."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2000,
Texas had a population of roughly 20.8 million people, 13.9 percent of whom said
they were foreign born. But for border towns like Brownsville, the numbers of
immigrants are higher. One-quarter of residents living in Cameron County, which
includes Brownsville, in 2000 were foreign born.
But those statistics may not be accurate, Poston
said, because people are not required to answer questions about immigrant
"People aren't going to say, 'Yes, I'm here
illegally,' because they know it's against the law," Poston said.
The study concluded that the country faces two
choices - keeping the status quo or reducing the number of immigrants, which
Camarota acknowledged would result in "acrimonious" political battles.
The study updates a 1998 CIS report that
predicted what Camarota said has come to pass.
Noah Pickus, a professor at North Carolina State
University, was not an author of the report, but was included in the Capitol
Hill panel discussion of the study.
He agreed with the authors that immigration
presented problems for some states, and said states have a "perverse incentive
to increase the number of illegal aliens" to gain more political representation
in the House.
And though he agreed that reducing immigration
would help balance apportionment, he said it was not the only option that should
be considered. He said if legal immigration were reduced, it could cause a spike
in illegal immigration.
There would be "more of the same kind of
apportionment problems, but it would be more based in the illegal dimension," he
Group: N.C. shouldn't have new seat
Illegal immigrants raised count, leading to 13th district, study says
By Cristina Breen Bolling
The Charlotte Observer, October 25, 2003
An influx of illegal immigrants caused North Carolina to gain
its new 13th congressional seat and caused other states to lose representation,
according to a new report by a Washington-based group calling for stricter
The Center for Immigration Studies report says the nation's
method of doling out House seats by counting all residents -- legal or not --
rewards states with large numbers of illegal immigrants, while penalizing states
with lower numbers.
Political analysts and politicians criticized the report
Friday, saying illegal immigration is one of many factors that contributed to
North Carolina's population growth and its new House seat.
The study said California gained three seats because of
illegal immigrants and Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana each lost a
seat as a result of illegal immigration elsewhere.
Seats in the U.S. House are redistributed every decade based
on updated census results. The census doesn't ask whether respondents are here
legally, but immigration officials estimate that 206,000 undocumented immigrants
live in North Carolina and census officials say most filled out census forms.
"Had the United States enforced its laws, North Carolina
wouldn't have gotten its seat. ... It was illegal immigration that pushed you
over the threshold to get that seat," said Steven Camarota, director of research
for the Center for Immigration Studies.
"From North Carolina's perspective, that may be a good thing,
but one would like to think seats are distributed on where legal (residents)
would be living," Camarota said.
Critics of the study on Friday said the report states the
obvious -- that North Carolina's illegal-immigrant population grew -- but it
wrongly singles out immigrants for changing districts.
"It's not really fair to say the only reason we got that
extra seat is because of illegal immigrants," said Bob Coats, an analyst with
the N.C. Data Center in Raleigh.
"We certainly had an increase in the Hispanic population, but
that wasn't the only population that grew. We also had large in-migration from
other parts of the nation."
North Carolina and Utah tussled last year after North
Carolina won the last available U.S. House district seat by 856 people over
Utah. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Utah's request to take the seat after it
criticized North Carolina's method of counting.
"When it's this close, any number of things could tip the
balance -- the biotech industry, the computer-software industry. The list goes
on and on," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., a Raleigh resident who won the new
13th seat last year.
UNCC professor and political scientist Ted Arrington, another
critic of the report, said it's Congress' job to decide whether illegal
immigrants or other noncitizens should continue to be counted when congressional
lines are drawn.
"They should make (that decision) on the basis of what's good
public policy," Arrington said.
N.C. clout tied to immigrants
A report says counting illegal immigrants helped the
state get another House seat, but a critic raises questions
By Michael Easterbrook
The Raleigh (NC) News and Observer, October 24, 2003
Illegal immigrants have boosted North Carolina's political strength,
helping to give it more clout in Congress than it has has had since before the
Civil War, according to a study released Thursday.
The study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based group
pressing for more stringent immigration rules, said North Carolina picked up a
13th congressional seat because of nearly 200,000 illegal immigrants counted in
the 2000 census. Seats in the U.S. House are redistributed every decade based on
North Carolina's gain was another state's loss, according to the study: It found
that illegal immigrants throughout the country "caused Indiana, Michigan and
Mississippi to each lose one seat in the House in 2000, while Montana failed to
gain a seat it otherwise would have."
"If you fail to control your borders, you're going to end up with political
distortions like this," said Steven Camarota, the center's research director and
a co-author of the study. "North Carolina gets its seat because people from
other countries knowingly violated immigration laws and are here without
The study's authors relied on census estimates of the number if illegal
immigrants in each state. They subtracted the estimated number of illegal
immigrants from each state's population and calculated how seats in the U.S.
House would have been distributed without them.
At least one immigration specialist said the methodology was flawed.
"Immigration is only one of a number of factors [that determine apportionment],"
said Gunther Peck, an associate professor at Duke University who teaches
immigration history and policy.
This isn't the first time the process by which North Carolina gained the seat
has been questioned. With 13 seats, North Carolina has not had such a large
congressional delegation since 1843.
Officials in Utah claimed the seat would have gone to them had the census
counted their overseas missionaries. Utah lost a challenge based on another
argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, but its representatives in Congress are
continuing to fight for the seat, claiming the census double-counted 2,500
students at UNC-Chapel Hill.
The assertion that North Carolina gained the seat because of illegal immigrants
is unlikely to strengthen Utah's case, said U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat
from Raleigh who won the 13th District seat in 2002.
"I can't imagine that it would," Miller said. "The constitution provides that
apportionment is based ... on all residents in the United States, not just
Lawsuits filed in 1979 and 1988 by the Federation of American Immigration
Reform, another group calling for curbs on immigration, tried to stop counting
of illegal immigrants. Neither suit succeeded.
Camarota said that reviving those efforts would probably fail. He said
authorities should reduce the number of illegal immigrants.
But Peck, the Duke professor, said such efforts are unlikely to succeed. "There
aren't many Americans who are willing to go out and harvest sweet potatoes or
blueberries at subminimum wages," he said.
State denied House seat because of
illegal immigration, study says
By Charles S. Johnson
The Missoulian (Missoula, Montana), October 24, 2003
HELENA - Counting illegal immigrants in the census cost Montana a U.S. House
seat in 1990 and denied it a new district in 2000, a study by a group that
favors immigration restrictions concludes.
The study, by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank
that backs tougher restrictions on immigrants, contends that counting illegal
immigrants in the census benefits states with the most illegal immigrants, while
it penalizes other states without them. California gained three new House seats
after the 2000 census because of illegal immigrants, while North Carolina gained
one, said the study, reported in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.
"The presence of illegal aliens in other states caused Indiana, Michigan and
Mississippi to each lose one seat in the House in 2000, while Montana failed to
gain a seat it otherwise would have," the study said.
What's more, the study said, illegal immigration not only
realigns seats in the House but reshapes presidential elections because the
Electoral College is based on the size of state congressional delegations.
The census also counted noncitizens in 2000, which besides illegal immigrants
includes people on long-term temporary visas, such as foreign students, guest
workers and other exchange visitors, and legal permanent residents, also known
as green-card holders, the report said.
Looking at the House seats redistributed because of all noncitizens counted in
the 2000 census, not just illegal immigrants, California gained six seats, while
Florida, New York and Texas each gained one, the report said. Montana was one of
nine states that either didn't gain a seat it should have or lost a seat, the
Despite a growing population from 1980 to 1990, Montana lost one of its two U.S.
House seats after the 1990 census because it didn't gain enough residents to
retain the seat.
That led to the 1992 showdown between the two longtime U.S. House incumbents for
the state's single remaining House seat. Democrat Pat Williams, who had
represented the western district, topped Republican Ron Marlenee, who had
represented the eastern district.
Although Montana's population kept growing in the 1990s, the state lacked enough
residents to regain the other House seat after the 2000 census.
Although illegal immigrants can't vote, they are counted as part of the federal
census each year.
Officials from the Montana Republican and Democratic parties declined to comment
on the study, which may be found at www.cis.org.
Brad Keena, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said his boss wants
to look into the study's conclusions.
"I suspect the average Montana citizen would rightly call this an outrage,"
Keena said of the study's conclusion. "While it's important for the government
to know who lives where in the United States, a distinction still has to be made
between the lawful population and those here illegally."
Added Keena: "The stakes are too high to allow one state to use an inflated
population count to win more representation at the expense of lawful residents
of other states."
Rosen: Non-citizens in politics
By Mike Rosen
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colo.), January 2, 2004
One of these days we might actually get serious about enforcing our nation's
immigration laws. If you needed another reason to support such action, I've got
one for you. A recent analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals
that even though non-citizens, as our Constitution directs, can't vote in this
country, 18.5 million of them were included in apportioning seats among the
states in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2000 census. This
number is up two and half times just since 1980.
Included in the 18.5 million population of non-citizens - along with legal
immigrants, temporary visitors, foreign students and guest workers - are 7
million illegal aliens. (Please note the use of the accurate terminology,
"illegal alien": a trespasser from another country who is not a U.S. citizen.
Not to be confused with the politically correct euphemism, "undocumented
immigrant," many of whom, in fact, have documents, albeit forged.) So we have a
sizable group, 7 percent of the total U.S. population, that has no
constitutional right to vote but does influence the makeup of Congress.
the record, I'm not anti-immigration, just anti-illegal immigration. I encourage
and applaud legal immigrants who become naturalized U.S. citizens and earn the
right to vote.
Nonetheless, precisely because seats in the U.S. House are apportioned among the
states on the basis of each state's relative population, we have a growing
problem of non-citizen immigrants - legal and illegal - significantly altering
the balance of political power in this country by inflating the influence of
some states at the expense of others.
Here's how it works. Contemporary immigration, you see, isn't evenly distributed
throughout the country. Two- thirds of the foreign-born population lives in just
six states. Almost a third of all non-citizens live in the state of California.
As a consequence, the count of California's non-citizen population, included in
the official census, awards that state six more seats in the US House than it
would otherwise have. New York, Texas and Florida also gain seats, at the
expense of nine low-immigration states that, were it not for the non-citizen
count, would have one more seat each: Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana,
Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Utah.
This creates anomalies. While the population of the average House district is
about 650,000, Montana's lone congressman, Denny Rehberg, is spread thinly among
900,000 Montanans. If California weren't over-represented, Montana would have
two representatives. It also undermines the principle of "one man, one vote." In
the nine states with low non-citizen populations that lost seats, it takes about
100,000 votes to win a congressional race. By contrast, in California's
immigrant-heavy 31st Congressional District, 43 percent are non-citizens. There,
it took only 34,000. This is a formula for racial gerrymandering.
Then there's the distorting impact on presidential elections. The number of
votes each state gets in the winner-take-all electoral college tally is the sum
of that state's House districts plus two (Senate seats). California gets six
more Electoral College votes thanks to its non-citizens who, in essence, are
being counted as voters while nine other states are being cheated out of one
vote, each. With Bush winning the last election by the slim margin of 271
electoral votes to Gore's 267, the potential of non-citizens, to say nothing of
illegal aliens, deciding presidential elections is dismaying. Obviously, the
states that are favored by this policy like the idea of having larger
congressional delegations and will use their influence to protect the status
In years past, the influence of non-citizens in our voting process was
negligible. The recent wave of immigration and its maldistribution has changed
all that. The Constitution doesn't specify the method nor does it define
residency requirements for purposes of apportionment. The executive branch or
Congress may have the authority to rewrite the current rules, which have evolved
pretty much as a matter of public policy inertia. Any changes would no doubt be
challenged in court by one interest group or another. Since it has never
addressed the constitutionality of counting or excluding illegal aliens or
non-citizens, it would be interesting to hear what the Supremes have to say