The Commerce Department has announced that the 2020 census will ask about people’s citizenship status. The Justice Department had requested the reinstatement of this question.
The question obviously should be asked. Any country, especially one in which immigration is hotly debated, ought to have a good idea of how many citizens and how many non-citizens make up its population. The census should be used to get at this question.
It’s true that some non-citizens who are here illegally and who otherwise would participate in the census probably won’t participate in one that asks this question. There’s no way of knowing how large this effect will be. We do know that, with the citizenship question, we will get accurate data as to how many citizens live in the U.S. That’s something we should know.
The Washington Post’s report on the Commerce Department’s decision, written by Aaron Blake, devotes two paragraphs to the facts and then proceeds to the question that typically drives the Post’s reporting: Is this good for Democrats?
It isn’t. Indeed, Blake goes so far as to assert that it “carries potentially major political ramifications — most notably for Republicans’ ability to gerrymander Democrats into the minority for years to come.” The best Blake can do to support this wild claim is to quote some demographer who speculates that the Census decision will help Republicans pick up “several legislative seats in such states as Texas, California, Florida, and New York.”
Why the U.S. should hide the ball on citizenship to avoid the “potential” effect that Democrats will lose some seats in Congress — a matter of “inches,” Blake eventually concedes — is unclear.
Blake also fails to consider that the current system probably confers extra seats on Democrats due to illegal immigration, i.e., lawlessness. As Rep. Warren Davidson tweeted:
Apportionment for Congressional seats and electoral votes should be based on citizens, not on residents. Otherwise citizens are underrepresented… For example, California gets roughly three extra members of Congress based on estimates of illegal residents.
It didn’t take California long to try to preserve this unfair advantage. It has already challenged the Commerce Department’s decision in federal court.
Expect left-wing judges on the federal bench to find in California’s favor and order that the question be ditched. Hope that the Supreme Court will then allow the Census Department to make its reasonable and useful inquiry.