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Trump Administration to Deliberately Undercount Illegal Immigrants in 2020 Census

The Census Bureau’s decision to ask about citizenship in its decennial survey for the first time since 1950 will lead to worse data, but better electoral results for Republicans.

Yes he can! ||| CNNCNNThe Department of Commerce last night announced that the 2020 Census will, for the first time since 1950, ask all respondents whether they are a legal resident of the United States. The move has already been met with a lawsuit from the state of California, and pre-emptively denounced by five former directors of the Census Bureau as putting "the accuracy of the enumeration and success of the census in all communities at grave risk."

The official justification for the move, as enumerated by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a memo, is to produce more complete data so that the Justice Department can better enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In doing so the secretary is explicitly prioritizing a tertiary Census Bureau function over its constitutional raison d'être, which is to provide an accurate decennial head count—including of non-citizens and other non-voters—in order to reapportion the House of Representatives. "The Department of Commerce is not able to determine definitively how inclusion of a citizenship question on the decennial census will impact responsiveness," Ross wrote. "However, even if there is some impact on responses, the value of more complete and accurate data derived from surveying the entire population outweighs such concerns." This is a remarkable admission.

Citizenship status was included on Census forms until 1950, and was asked in the long-form questionnaire (sent to one in six households) in 2000. In addition, the Bureau's annual American Community Survey, which samples 2.6 percent of the population (and whose results had previously been used for Voting Rights Act enforcement), asks the legal-or-not question. So what's the problem with reinstating it now?

"There are great risks that including that question, particularly in the atmosphere that we're in today, will result in an undercount, not just of non-citizen populations but other populations that are concerned with what could happen to them," 2013-2017 Census Bureau director John Thompson told CityLab last month. "That is a tremendous risk."

Such sentiments are not limited to Democratic appointees. "It would be a horrendous problem for the Census Bureau and create all kind of controversies," 2008-2009 director Steve Murdock told Mother Jones. Added 1973-76 director Vincent Barabba: "It is simply inconceivable to me there would not be a very high level of anxiety around that question….[It's] beyond comprehension at this point. It would be really bad."

And there is plenty of reason to suspect that the Trump administration knows all this full well.

Households and communities that contain illegal immigrants already have ample reason to avoid contact with the government right now. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been targeting sanctuary cities for deportation raids, and conspicuously showing up at local courthouses to catch suspected aliens in the act of interacting with the legal system. Census results about disfavored populations have not been sacred historically—they were used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to intern Japanese-Americans, and by Woodrow Wilson to go after draft-dodgers.

Further, we know that key Trumpworld figures have been trying to de-link the Census headcount of illegal immigrants from congressional reapportionment, because they say so out loud. Kansas Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, last seen shambolically defending himself in a trial over his state's law requiring proof of citizenship to vote, wrote a Breitbart News op-ed in January making the dual argument that 1) the Census should ask about citizenship, and 2) illegal immigrants should not be taken into account when drawing up House maps. (Kobach, you might recall, was the de facto head of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that was dissolved in January after a series of debacles.)

The problem both with Kobach's legal analysis and the common who cares? response to the prospect of undercounting illegal immigrants is that it goes against the plain meaning of the Constitution and the previous 120 years (at minimum) of practice.

The original text of the Constitution stated that

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 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.

The notorious three-fifths compromise was wiped out by the 14th Amendment, which changed the language to: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed." You'll note who was included the head-count: women, who still had another half-century before they could vote. As National Review legal analyst Matthew J. Franck wrote in 2010,

[V]oting rights are not and never have been the relevant consideration in counting population for congressional representation. Like women in most states before the Nineteenth Amendment, and like minor children even today, the alien is counted because he is represented in Congress, even if he cannot participate in electing members of it.

Can we say of the illegal immigrant, though, that he is represented in Congress, even in some Burkean "virtual" sense? That is an interesting question of political theory, perhaps. And we might say that the important thing in practice is to prevent it from becoming a question–by dealing with the problem of illegal entry to the country. But for constitutional purposes, the question hardly arises. For "the whole number of persons in each State" would seem, on its face, to include everyone residing therein, illegally and legally alike.

Waving away the constitutional link between illegal-immigrant head-counts and congressional reapportionment has been on the restrictionist wishlist since at least the 1980s, and certainly has resonance in the broader population to this day, but that doesn't make it one inch closer to being a reality. For the Kris Kobaches of the world, diminishing the political power both of illegal immigrants and the communities they live in is the next best thing, regardless of the negative consequences on perfectly legal residents. There's a reason why Donald Trump's initial pick to run the Census (since withdrawn after controversy) was not a demographer, but a GOP gerrymanderer.

The Republican Party has dropped the pretense of colorblind analysis, constitutional fealty, and opposition to Census mission creep, and is now openly using data collection for smash-mouth politics. If the move survives legal challenge, the result will likely be an inaccurately drawn House map, more power tilted toward Republicans, and crappier survey data. In other words, mission accomplished.

Photo Credit: Sipa USA/TNS/Newscom

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  • timbo||

    Don't fill out the census anyway. What are they going to do? They do not need to pay an army of future bureaucrats to gather this crap anyway.
    Where I live they take down a massive office for months to do this crap.

  • Rich||

    They do not need to pay an army of future bureaucrats to gather this crap anyway.

    Right. Just get it from Facebook.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I shred it and burn it. When they come around saying I did not fill it out and I need to fill it out, I ask if it's a felony to fill out two forms. When they say I haven't already filled one out, I ask if that means they are not as anonymous as they say, and refuse to fill out a second illegal form.

    I assume they eventually make up data themselves.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    These are great tips for disaffected yahoos who dislike America's Constitution.

    Among progress-hating losers, the principle difference I perceive between Ted Kaczynski (or Tim McVeigh) and most of the antisocial goobers who comment at this site is that Kaczynski (like McVeigh) wasn't all talk.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Hell, bud, if you feel so strongly that I should share info with the government, why don't you make up for it by voluntarily sharing even more useless info with them? Add your shoe size, hat size, and ring finger size. While you're at it, throw in how big you can open your mouth and how far deep they can shove it; be sure to include asshole size, so they can know how much to enlarge it.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You are free to enjoy your alienation.

    Why someone would object to our government conducting, or civic-minded citizens participating in, a centuries-established census procedure that strengthens our country is puzzling.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I look forward to seeing subversives like you destroyed in the years to come.

  • Brendan||

    goobers?

    Michael Hihn, is that you?

  • ||

    I don't think I've ever answered it. And I've evaded the little temps they send out. Found one in my building once frustrated that no one answers her and I lied and told her most of the units were empty and were second homes and people were on vacation.

    I suspect the census already undercounts a variety of groups: people who work all the time, people who travel all the time, and libertarians who refuse to fill it out.

  • Enemy of the State||

    One of my college buddies in a shared rented house got hold of l980 long form mailed there. "I'll take care of this" he said as he took off with the form.

    A month or so later, a census worker showed up at their house wanting more information on the "Puerto Rican family living in their bathroom"....

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    When they say I haven't already filled one out, I ask if that means they are not as anonymous as they say, and refuse to fill out a second illegal form.

    Brilliant!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I suppose Welch wants us to count people on the other side of the border wall, too.

  • timbo||

    I'm still amazed at how they counted 7 billion people a few years back.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    There are no people on the other side of the border wall.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't know if even President Trump would go so far as to unperson those people.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    All he has to do is to Other them.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "I suppose Welch wants us to count people on the other side of the border wall, too."

    Everyone has the right to be an American if they want to be one. Americans have no say in who joins their polity.

    Open Borders Uber Alles!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Yep. All power to the foreigner. Fuck those nativist territorial residents.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    If it's supposed to be nothing but a head count, then make it nothing but a head count. Remove all the other questions from it as well.

  • jcw||

    I like your ultimate solution. But what about making the census incrementally better by keeping the legal or not question off the questionnaire?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Because if you're including all of this other nonsense and metadata in the census already it makes it harder to argue to many people why this single question is suddenly illicit.

    I have no issue you making the argument, just that I think you might have more of an uphill battle in doing so.

  • jcw||

    I appreciate you wanting an all or nothing approach, but I'm not sure how effective that would be for most things, including this topic.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And my point is, that I think it's easier to argue that they should not be collecting any of this metadata, then it is to argue that they SHOULD be collecting a bunch of meta-data, but just not this one specific piece of metadata.

  • JesseAz||

    You realize there are millions of people here legally who are not citizens right? The question isn't about legal status.

  • Rhywun||

    All I can find is a reference to "the citizenship question" but not the actual wording. Hell, Welch has both "citizenship question" and "legal or not question" above. Those seem to be two different things to me.

  • JesseAz||

    Three other surveys use a generic citizenship question. I'd go with what already exists.

  • MJBinAL||

    If done as it has been in the past, they would ask about immigration status, citizenship, how long each member of your household has been in the US, and several other questions. They are trying (as in the past) to get a handle on what is actually going on.

  • ||

    Why should jurisdictions that import illegal aliens and give them tax funded housing and welfare get to have more clout in Congress to rule me?

  • FlameCCT||

    Seriously?
    How do you get to legal or illegal from asking about citizenship status? I would also note that only citizens can vote in federal elections, yet many States cannot even tell you if only citizens voted because they refuse to verify citizenship let alone legal or illegal status.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    No. Ask for citizenship status if we're going to have the census.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    BUCS always insists that the census taker count his little head as well.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Does he insist using his mouth or anus?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    You are so unimaginative.

  • silver.||

    This is a principled position. Maybe make all the other questions optional?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "If it's supposed to be nothing but a head count, then make it nothing but a head count. Remove all the other questions from it as well"

    Yep.

    And also get rid of all those Census Bureau forms that are sent out to businesses wanting all sorts of information about inventories, assets, payroll, etc. etc. that the government uses for it's economic research and reports. Businesses have to spend time and money doing all that for nothing just so the government can get free data that anyone else would have to pay for.

    There is nothing in the Constitution about the federal government being empowered to force companies to give them all that data.

  • Presskh||

    Because Bestusedcarssles, the apportionment of Representatives, as well as a lot of Federal funding, depends on the census. The apportionment of Representatives should only depend on the number of legal citizens, for sure.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    And anything that weakens democrats is good for America.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Why should foreign nationals be represented in our congress?

  • Brandybuck||

    They have in the past. Congress represents more than just voters. It does not represent transient visitors however. And by definition an illegal immigrant is transient because they can be deported at any time.

  • MJBinAL||

    I had not thought of it that way, but that is probably a valid argument, so long as it is not in the 9th circuit.

  • jonnysage||

    The question is WHY. Why should foreign nationals have a say in the running of our govt? Until they are citizens, they Are guests.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Yep, visitors are not counted, giving the lie to the "head count" claim.

    Most visitors have heads.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Foreigners shouldn't be counted at all, at least not for districting purposes. Trump needs to keep up the good work, and take away as much from democrats as possible.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is a win win win.

    Either the 2020 Census has the legal resident status question or all questions but a headcount are deemed superfluous for the purpose of the Census.

    'n' th D Chess.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Let's say you have 10000 foreign students at UCF here legally on student visas. Would you not want to count them for many purposes? I wouldn't add representation explicitly, but as a representative in that district if like to know how many people in general are there for transportation and medical services etc. For illegals... I'd like to know to get rid of them. But they're probably not going to fill it out anyway, so...

  • jonnysage||

    Orlando might care. Why would DC?

  • Cyto||

    The Census is for one purpose though. Not many. It has been co-opted because it is convenient. And maybe that's a good thing.

    But you shouldn't put the cart before the horse. In this case the Census has one and only one constitutionally mandated function - to get a count of the people for the purpose of determining representation in the congress. That purpose does not include counting foreign nationals.

    It is a pretty simple argument. You can pretend it is all complicated and scream about fairness and finding people for government programs... but in reality the only reason they want those illegals counted is because they think they are going to be in mostly democrat friendly areas and they want more representation in congress under their control. If it turned out that illegal alien head counts inflated Republican representation the same people would absolutely flip their lids about including them in the Census.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Commifornia would lose some of their 53 congressmen. That is what they are scared of if the Census did not count illegals or non-US citizens.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "but as a representative in that district if like to know how many people in general are there for transportation and medical services etc"

    Or you could just look at the hard data regard uses and trends of those services. Which is much more usable information than the census.

  • Rich||

    Take a gander at the 14th Amendment while you're mulling this stuff over.

  • jcw||

    This article actually has a paragraph talking about the 14th amendment

  • Rich||

    *Part* of it.

  • jcw||

    So the author took a gander at the 14th amendment, or it didnt?

  • Rich||

    I suppose he did.

    I should have been clearer: I'm recommending this to the commentariat.

  • retiredfire||

    Section 2 says some very interesting things about apportionment and being a citizen if the United States.
    Too many people focus on the first section and fail to see that the whole amendment was never meant to be used the way it has been.
    It was written to punish the former Confederates, not much else.
    It took a hundred years before the courts made it turn the Constitution on its head.
    Prior to the 1960's, whether a government action was justified was subject to whether it had a compelling interest in removing some liberty.
    Then it became whether government had a compelling interest in creating "equality" - an impossible metric but one that allowed massive meddling.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [throws male goose at a copy of the Constitution]

  • Mickey Rat||

    Count the illegals, because rotten districts are fantastic for the politics of representative democracies.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "In doing so the secretary is explicitly prioritizing a tertiary Census Bureau function over its constitutional raison d'être"

    Something they've been doing since they started adding questions beyond, "How many people are living in this household?"

    " You'll note who was included the head-count: women, who still had another half-century before they could vote. "

    You'll note who wasn't included in the head count: People who, although physically present in the US, weren't legally citizens. Indians were excluded from the count because they were, legally, citizens of the sovereign Indian tribes, not the United States of America.

    Kind of like Mexicans who are here illegally are citizens of Mexico?

  • jcw||

    Is this an argument that illegal aliens shouldn't pay tax? Interesting approach.

  • MJBinAL||

    In general, they don't really pay tax now. Often paid under the table. If they DO "pay" tax, most of them get it all back, plus the Earned Income Tax Credit that cancels out what SS taxes they pay and provides subsidy as well. The act of "paying taxes" then gets them access to many of our other welfare subsidies.

  • buybuydandavis||

    They shouldn't pay tax
    They should get out

  • Iheartskeet||

    That was my read on it too. I honestly don't get the fuss. It seems straightforward to be determine representation based on the number of citizens. Maybe instead of asking them if they are a legal resident, they should just ask them if they are a US citizen.

  • Rhywun||

    It is not clear from this or any of the linked articles what, in fact, they are going to ask.

  • MJBinAL||

    The census during the Clinton administration asked about both residency status and citizenship for everyone in a household.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    But this the history of now. So that doesn't matter to the progtards.

  • timbo||

    How can these assholes have access to my every movement and yet they cannot just look this stuff up?

    The answer is of course, like every other dysfunctional bloated government black whole, they have too much information to adequately cipher for anything useful... except of course breaking your door down when they think you have threatened a prog.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You make a good point. If we deposit all the progs in landfills where they belong there is no further need to break down your door a small there will be none left to threaten.

  • Brandybuck||

    The purpose of the census is to apportion representation. Which means means legal residency.

    I have nothing against illegal immigrants, but they don't get congressional representation. The problem is not the census, the problem is that the census is being used as a general purpose data collection device.

  • Tony||

    Actually it just means residence (to be specific, usual residence, i.e., where you sleep most of the time) according to the law which has been around for the entire history of the United States.

  • jonnysage||

    It means whatever Congress says it means. They have power to make all laws necessary and proper, including defining that a whole person is a citizen.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The constitution, being a legal document, the reasonable interpretation of "resident' is legal residency, not "this is where my fat ass is" residency.

  • Rich||

    At that time a proclamation was made by Caesar Augustus that all the inhabited world should be registered. This was the first census, undertaken while Cyrenius was governor of Syria and everybody went to the town of his birth to be registered.

    Emphasis added. Obvious solution. And think of THE JOBS!

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Good enough for Mary Mother of God, it's good enough for me.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    How is the stable working out as a primary residence?

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Building mangers is about as shovel ready as a job can get.

  • MJBinAL||

    So where will Tony go?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    To Hell?

  • JesseAz||

    There are three other federal surveys with the citizens question and they have the same response rate as the general and showed no participation declines this year or last.

    Matt Welch is a histrionic moron.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    The whole purpose of this article is to act as a booster to illegals. Because open borders at any cost.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The libertarians are going to win this one, Elias, and you know it. Bigoted immigration restrictions do not endure in America. Become accustomed to it, leave, or continue to be a disaffected, cranky loser.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Yet, illegals want to get into the USA so badly.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Arty, you progs are the ones who will need to leave.

  • ThomasD||

    Matt is not doing this because he's a histrionic moron. He's doing it because he a Democratic water boy.

    Granted being a histrionic moron is not coincidental. It is related, just not causative.

  • I can't even||

    the 2020 Census will, for the first time since 1950, ask all respondents whether they are a legal resident of the United States."

    I found your weasel-word Matt. The 2000 census designed by the Clinton Administration asked 1 family in 6 about their citizenship on the long-form. Was there outrage then?

    http://thefederalist.com/2018/.....us-census/

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    1 in 6 people are illegals?

  • gormadoc||

    Do you often read just the first sentence in an article? Because the 2000 census appears later.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The US didn't exist before 1950.

  • Longtobefree||

    The constitutional purpose of the census is to apportion the house of representatives.

    So, in theory, a white house secretary can send each state director of elections a postcard asking "how many registered voters you got?". All the rest of this madness is free consumer data collection and analysis for more corporate welfare.

    Not to mention that the numbers are "adjusted" by congress using the entrails of a chicken before becoming gospel writ.
    So we could just let congress make up the census numbers and save a few dollars paid out to the busy bodies hired as census takers.

  • Rhywun||

    Not to mention that the numbers are "adjusted" by congress using the entrails of a chicken before becoming gospel writ.

    ^This. I hear the same story at every census: the left hollering that they're being "undercounted" and the census knocking up their numbers a little bit.

  • silver.||

    I didn't know Congress "adjusted" the numbers. Sure. That's not going to get abused.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Last I heard, they passed a law prohibiting "adjusting" the numbers. And the Supreme court has ruled the census can't be "adjusted" for purposes of apportionment.

    Only for distribution of funding. Perhaps that's what Longtobefree is referring to?

  • Rhywun||

    Figures it would be more complicated than I remember.

    Also amusing to see the NYT doesn't stray an inch from their "women and minorities hardest hit" spiel decade after decade.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I believe part of ghe original purposew was to apportion how much funding, based on population, each state was required to send to the federal government (given that the federal government's power to tax was fairly limited).

  • buybuydandavis||

    Adjusting "census" numbers turns it into a poll, not a census.

  • Jerryskids||

    I don't see why non-citizens should be counted for apportionment of Congressional representation. The "whole number of persons" thing is a red herring - if a bump stock counts as a machine gun, surely a person can be counted as a non-person.

  • Tony||

    For one because that's what US law has always said, for two because even noncitzens have to live under the government and thus deserve equal representation in it. Don't count them, they don't have to follow the law. And we know how criminal-prone those brownies are.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "even noncitzens have to live under the government and thus deserve equal representation in it."

    No. No they don't.

  • Tony||

    Take it up with the courts then because that would be a novel interpretation of the constitution.

    Do you feel all warm and fuzzy inside that you finally have a government that acts with such pure malice toward groups of people you don't like?

  • JesseAz||

    You mean like how recently federal courts ruled that illegal citizens can be detained without bail pending trial for civil crimes? They don't get

  • Mickey Rat||

    I am not sure how you get to be represented in a system you cannot legally vote in.

  • Tony||

    Good point. This isn't even really about that level of democratic justice, but simply about correct counting for apportionment purposes. Really not something to set your hair on fire about, even if you do hate Mexicans.

    I do believe noncitizen residents should be allowed to vote, however, because of the problem you reference.

  • BYODB||

    I assume you would also have been in favor of the 3/5's Compromise?

  • MJBinAL||

    Naa, Tony is only in favor of noncitizen residents voting because most of them are from Socialist countries and he expects them to vote that way. If they were all conservatives or libertarians he would change his story in a nanosecond.

  • Tony||

    Why don't you try convincing them of your superior worldview? Landmasses don't have political beliefs.

    The fact that this entire exercise is about increasing Republican power--and nothing else--is surely not lost on you.

  • MJBinAL||

    Is that why Clinton did it Tony?

  • leninsmummy||

    Noncitizen residents should be allowed to vote, unless they are Russians messing with our democracy.

  • Longtobefree||

    So riddle me this -
    If we ban guns because in a few instances they are used to kill people, why do we not ban social media because in a few cases it was used to fiddle with the minds of a few potential voters?

  • MJBinAL||

    Yep, I am sure they must hate it. Maybe they should go home?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Enabling Alabama to resume statehood was a huge mistake.

    I figure the people operating in the immediate wake of the Civil War did not recognize that Alabama would continue to be a moral, economic, cultural, political, and educational drag and stain on our nation for more than one and one-half centuries. Otherwise, they would have made Alabama -- and some others -- unincorporated territories. No senator from Mississippi, no electoral vote from Alabama, no House member from South Carolina.

    I don't fault those folks too much, though They beat the vicious bigots when it counted.

    Bigly.

  • Rufus T. Firefly.||

    It's "big league" you fucking idiot.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    Rev, you are a special kinda of idiot.

  • retiredfire||

    To label the Rev an idiot would be an insult to all those in "the lowest order in a classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25."
    He's not even that smart.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    "For one because that's what US law has always said,"

    No, actually. Look at the actual language, concerning "Indians not taxed". Just being physically present in the US isn't constitutionally enough to count. You actually had to be legally part of relevant public.

    Neither do diplomats or their families count.

    The argument that illegal immigrants shouldn't be counted isn't frivolous, because there ARE categories of people in the US who don't count.

  • Tony||

    The principle of "usual residence" was established in the first census (1790).

  • MJBinAL||

    If you are a citizen of another country, your "usual residence" should be in that country.

  • MJBinAL||

    As I would see it, not only for them, but for me when I am in another country, my residence in Russia, Mexico, Germany or Japan for the time I was there, was my temporary residence. My permanent (or usual) residence was in the USA.

  • retiredfire||

    Section 2 of the loathsome 14th amendment refers to apportionment and that it depend on "the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States".
    The requirement of sex and age have been altered, through later amendments but the part about "citizen of the United States" hasn't.
    It would really suck if the progressives favorite tool for destroying America, through mis-interpretation of its first section, would end up being used against them.

  • Conchfritters||

    Wait - is the census just a head count? If we don't care if they are here legally, why not just count all the foreign visitors staying at Disney Land, or include all the diplomats and embassy staff living in DC?

  • Tony||

    A head count of people who live here.

  • Just Say'n||

    You think the bulk of illegal immigrants in this country live here year round? You don't know much about migration patterns, do you?

  • Tony||

    I dunno, but presumably we still have a method for determining that. Not that we are in danger of overcounting illegal immigrants. Or minorities in general.

  • Just Say'n||

    So you admit that you don't understand migration patterns, but it doesn't matter in your opinion because we are not "in danger of overcounting illegal immigrants" and yet you provide no proof for this. What you are spouting is blind allegiance devoid of any rational basis. Your political opinions are more religious than rational

  • MJBinAL||

    "What you are spouting is blind allegiance devoid of any rational basis."

    Dude, IT"S TONY!

  • Conchfritters||

    Diplomats in DC live here. People visiting Disney Land from overseas live here, for a week or so. People who swim the Rio Grande and then work a roofing job in North Carolina live here for a year or two.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "A head count of people who live here."

    Got it.

    Don't count dead vacationers.

  • Longtobefree||

    But do count some, but not all, American citizens who are currently out of the country.

  • silver.||

    I support accurate census data on principle, so ideally we could have questions like this and have the responses be sacrosanct, but most libertarians are aware of what happens when we leave the government a paper trail. Even if they add it, people are going to lie, so I think the biggest effect is political posturing..

  • Philippe Lacoude||

    I have a lot of respect for Matt Welch but did he just miss a great opportunity to consider the libertarian and constitutional idea of making the Census a single-question form?

    HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?

  • Azathoth!!||

    This seems pretty straight forward--

    ""Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed."

    It explicitly excludes from the count the non-tax paying Indians in this country--which group most Mexican illegals fall into.

    If the rest of the illegal population chooses to not respond--who are WE to say that they must? Their bodies, their choice.

    But we are perfectly within our rights to try to keep track of all the illegal immigrants we can.

  • Just Say'n||

    "Newly woke" Matt Welch is beyond insufferable

  • Rhywun||

    The snarky tone this place has taken is really off-putting. They should leave that stuff to us.

  • Just Say'n||

    I just want to know when and where Welch and Gillespie decided to switch roles.

    Welch: Ok, let me be the douche bag for the duration of this administration

    Gillespie: Wait, so I have to be the reasonable one? No way, I wear a God damn faded leather jacket. The Ramones do not do 'reasonable'

    Welch: Seriously, man, find a new band. It's the 21st Century

    Gillespie: Yeah, you play unreasonable far better than me. Ok, let's switch

  • Azathoth!!||

    Do not EVER confuse the Sears Roebuck pleather 'Fonzie' jacket worn by Nick Gillespie with ANYTHING the Ramones might wear.

    Nick wears the type of jacket your grandmother gets you because she knows that you're one of those 'punkers'--all into Happy Days and fast music.

    Everyone gets one--or something like it. You just never WEAR it.

    With Nick, it's as if, when the old man asked him if he wanted to take off Aunt Clara's gift, he said 'No" and headed outside to shoot his BB gun dressed like a pink nightmare.

  • ThomasD||

    "With Nick, it's as if, when the old man asked him if he wanted to take off Aunt Clara's gift, he said 'No" and headed outside to shoot his BB gun dressed like a pink nightmare."

    I LOLed.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Progressive entryism continues. My impression is that the same thing is going on in the Libertarian Party.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Here's how you get rid of the Constitutional requirement for a census.

    1. Every representative proxies the number of votes received in the last election.

    2. House votes are by proxies, not one vote per rep.

    3. Apportion by votes in the election, not people.

    One by product is that this encourages voting far more than today, and everyone says they like voters, right? It also makes gerrymandering less useful.

    If you really do want districts to be equal sized, you can go ahead and gerrymander if you want, or you could also allow property owners who border a different district with fewer voters to shift district.

    And if you want to spice things up, each election sends the top three vote recipients to the House. That will encourage third party voters.

  • Longtobefree||

    Uh, that does not actually get rid of the constitutional requirement for the census.
    Amending the constitution is the only way to get rid of the requirement for the census.
    Voting in different politicians is a way to change HOW the census is conducted.

  • Kivlor||

    If we don't get to count big-government loving, liberty hating illegal immigrants for apportionment, how will we ever achieve the Libertarian Moment?

    Heck, that's not enough. If you don't let them vote too, then you're not colorblind, you're a racist.

    --Matt Welch

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Libertarians do not oppose immigration (whether currently lawful or not). You are mistaking conservatives and bigots for libertarians.

  • DenverJ||

    Bullshit. Some idiotic libertarians are for open borders. Rational libertarians realize that you cannot have open borders until you dismantle the welfare state, and even then would object to importing large numbers of illiterate socialist leaning people.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You are mistaking faux libertarians -- right-wingers who masquerade in libertarian drag because they lack the courage to acknowledge their right-wingery -- for libertarians.

  • DenverJ||

    No. You are indulging the "True Scotsman" fallacy that only people who agree with you are true libertarians.

  • retiredfire||

    American libertarians support and defend the Constitution.
    The Constitution puts the power of citizenship in the hands of Congress.
    The 14th amendment determines apportionment by "the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States".
    The age and sex parts have been changed, through the amendment process.
    The citizenship part, hasn't.
    What you advocate is anarchy.
    A society without laws invites the very aggression you claim to be against, by principle.
    Admit it, Rev, you're no libertarian, just a slimy prog.

  • damikesc||

    In doing so the secretary is explicitly prioritizing a tertiary Census Bureau function over its constitutional raison d'être, which is to provide an accurate decennial head count—including of non-citizens and other non-voters—in order to reapportion the House of Representatives.

    Why should illegals be permitted to benefit a state in the first place?

    If we're going to use the census to apportion House seats, then we need to count citizens.

  • leninsmummy||

    "Why should illegals be permitted to benefit a state in the first place?" Now you know why they are so sanctimonious about illegal immigrants. You know if there were large quantities of republican voters coming across the border it would be a different story (such as Cubans in Florida).

  • Lester224||

    Has Trump considered that not counting illegal immigrants will mess up the formula for coming up with federal law enforcement resources for his supporters in Texas? It's just dumb.

  • retiredfire||

    Really?
    You think that money sent to states is decided by how many people are there, instead of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours"?
    Now, who's being naive?

  • Lester224||

    The census is used for all kinds of things besides representation in congress. It's inefficient to have one census for representation and another census for things like FBI resources, ATF resources and state resources because states are required to education the childrent of illegal aliens. Do you want to raise your own state and local taxes to require additional local censuses to leverage resources needed locally that illegal aliens impact like-it-or-not?

  • Kivlor||

    No, no, no. You've got this wrong. Illegal immigrants don't commit crime, they don't use state resources. They contribute to everything and use nothing and are absolutely and unequivocally good people. They're better than actual citizens.

  • jonnysage||

    Uh yes. I do want to California to pay for their illegals. directly. And I want my state to deport ours to California.

  • SimonP||

    Have fun changing your grandma's diapers, then.

  • BYODB||

    Remember how the 3/5's Compromise was good for the South before the Civil War to inflate their representative counts in order to help cement slavery as an institution, and how the North didn't want that so they altered how they considered people?


    Pad your constituent numbers, even if they're slaves, so that you can cement illegal immigration as an institution. It's so obvious you'd need to be ignorant to believe it's anything but that.

  • BYODB||

    From Wikipedia:The Three-Fifth's Compromise


    "However, since slaves could not vote, leaders in slave states would thus have the benefit of increased representation in the House and the Electoral College. Delegates opposed to slavery proposed that only free inhabitants of each state be counted for apportionment purposes, while delegates supportive of slavery, on the other hand, opposed the proposal, wanting slaves to count in their actual numbers."

    And, now, we have literally the same situation. Weird. Somehow I suspect no one would accept such a compromise in the arena of illegal immigrants, which is more evidence that somehow our Civil war era leaders were actually less partisan when it came to slavery than they are today over illegal immigrants. Shocking that no one has even bothered to make this comparison yet.

  • leninsmummy||

    Great point. Representatives are shameless when it comes to apportionment, then and now. Funny that in both cases it was Democrats.

  • MJBinAL||

    What a load of horseshit.

    The question of citizenship was on the census for over 100 years, was on the census during the Clinton years, but NOW it is nefarious plot to under count the illegal immigrants?

    Matt, you are a dumbass. Not a libertarian dumbass, just a dumbass.

  • ranrod||

    Illegal alien numbers - Youve been lied to for decades!

    Fox News and other sources repeat the same old media/politicial lie of only 11-12 illegal aliens in the USA!!

    Whenever these politicians and the media regurgitate these lies you will know them for their cover up!!

    Univision boasted 50 million
    Retired INS M. Cutler writes of 40-50 million would receive amnesty if ever it is granted...
    Debbie Schlussel writes of 40 million..
    CAPS Study 2007 reports of up to 38 million..

  • JeremyR||

    Most Mexicans are essentially Indians, belonging to various Mexican tribes. So they should be excluded.

  • jonnysage||

    I'm confused. Why would we want to count non citizens, and worse, illegal aliens, to decide how many reps a state gets? Non citizens should not get representation in a citizens govt.

  • ravenshrike||

    Just to be clear, you do realize that under the all present theory you propose all tourists in the US at any point during the census count towards population right?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Absolutely. Lets just hope the owners of the hospitality industry don't en masse decide to give a free stay to all authoritarian furriners next census season.

  • MikeyB||

    It's not voting rights...it's citizenship. Lack of voting is the result of being illegal...not the precursor.
    All persons in the U.S. were considered citizens when we were founded...so everyone was to be counted.
    The idea that illegal immigrants should be apportioned representation leads to an illogical conclusion.
    Namely, that if all people in the U.S. were illegal, then nobody could vote, and nobody would be elected. Every member of Congress would be appointed and the President would then be appointed by Congress.
    GIven the wholly unacceptable outcome of the extension of the policy to count illegals leads to the conclusion that they should not be included in representation.
    On a more local level. California would likely be the 1st state unable to to elect anybody given their rather lopsided demographics.

  • ||

    Does the term "restrictionist" here mean anything? Or is it just a grab bag that covers unrelated people who don't favor full federal funding and voting rights for illegal aliens?

  • GILMORE™||

    "It would be a horrendous problem for the Census Bureau and create all kind of controversies".... ""[It's] beyond comprehension at this point. It would be really bad.""

    *Won't someone think of the bureaucrats!?*

    I confess: when people use hyperbolic adjectives like 'horrendous' and vague terms like 'controversy'...

    ... but never actually specify a single negative-repercussion which should obviously concern 'average citizens' (rather than career bureaucrats)?.... i tend to find myself unmoved.

    similarly....

    The problem both with Kobach's legal analysis and the common "who cares?" response to the prospect of undercounting illegal immigrants is that it goes against the plain meaning of the Constitution

    If so, then I assume legal challenges will succeed

    But it does make me wonder = if it were so obviously unconstitutional, why the practice of establishing citizenship-status during the census was apparently de rigeur for the first half of the 20th century?

  • DenverJ||

    Don't forget: the same census numbers that decide how many reps in Congress a state gets also determines how many votes they get in the Electoral College. In any case, millions of invaders should not have the ability to influence our government.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm only confused about one thing here... well, maybe several things...

    If illegal immigrants are so famously averse to making contact with officials who might learn of their undocumented status, it seems very unlikely that they'll fill out a census form, it also seems equally unlikely that in the off chance they do, they'd tell the truth about their citizenship.

    I don't really have a dog in this fight because I still fall on the census-bad end of the census-good-census bad oscillation wave. In the 90s, when the Democrats wanted to turn the Census form into a social-services form and began asking all sorts of intrusive questions, I #resisted. I was subsequently labeled "Hitler". Now that the... shoe seems to be on the other foot-- kind of sort of-- I now see that asking intrusive questions on the Census makes you Hitler. So I'm just going to remain detached and "above it all" and quietly judge.

  • buybuydandavis||

    We'll have a better estimate of how many *Americans* there are in America
    And they're the ones that matter

    America First

  • buybuydandavis||

    "It is simply inconceivable to me there would not be a very high level of anxiety around that question….[It's] beyond comprehension at this point. It would be really bad."

    I don't think any American is going to have any trepidation in answering the question.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "The Republican Party has dropped the pretense of colorblind analysis, constitutional fealty, and opposition to Census mission creep, and is now openly using data collection for smash-mouth politics."

    Matt has dropped the pretense of not being a race baiting swine in the tank for the Dems.

    This is such a laugh. The Dems passed the 1965 to import Not Americans to vote Big Government. They told the peasants to go fuck themselves and their Proposition 187 too, when the peasants got uppity and tried to restrain welfare spending for illegals in CA by passing Prop 187 overwhelmingly. They encouraged an illegal alien invasion, and prevented enforcement of immigration laws to balloon their electoral representation and eventual voting rolls.

    That's somewhere between smash-mouth politics and bringing in a foreign army to overthrow the government.

    By the way - illegal aliens are not a race. The Leftist mind rot at Reason goes deeper every day.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    Matt - you stay true to your open borders. Stay true man. Count everyone in the Americas.
    Who cares how many illegals..sorry undocumented people are here because countries are just myths and it's one world! *takes a puff* one world man.

  • ||

    Census question #1: Aren't a lot of illegal aliens essentially "Indians not taxed"?

  • ||

    Census question #2: Why do former SCOTUS judges get to write op-eds about getting rid of 2nd Amendment, but we must have obeisance to a Constitutional clause that we count "persons" without consideration of their legal status?

  • ||

    Census question #3: Why should a voter in a jurisdiction that uses my tax money to house, feed etc. foreigners get more representation in Congress to rule me than a voter in another jurisdiction? Why not one citizen, one vote?

  • ||

    Census question #4: So the "liberal" position is: a state could offer sanctuary and public housing to the entire nation of e.g. Russia, and by so doing receive enough representation to outvote and dominate in Congress citizens of every other state?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is a win win win.

    Either the 2020 Census has the legal resident status question or all questions but a headcount are deemed superfluous for the purpose of the Census.

    'n' th D Chess.

  • tlapp||

    Since the census is to determine representation it should ask if you are a citizen so the representation would be of the citizenship that has voting rights. What should not be asked is race. That is truly used only to divide people.

  • SimonP||

    So many of the comments here perfectly illustrate the intellectual rot at the core of most libertarians' brains. Oh, sure, they're in favor of the rule of law and limited government, until they see an opportunity structurally stack the deck in favor of political conservatives. Who cares what the Constitution actually says? Just count legal residents! And if that results in politically disfranchising blue states and districts, who cares? One party rule has such a great track record in terms of avoiding endemic corruption and limiting state power!

    And they're saying this under an administration that is so breathtakingly corrupt and incompetent that we almost can't keep up with it. The present case is exemplary in this respect: Sessions doesn't feel any need to justify this question (how does counting citizens aid in the enforcement of the VRA? No one has explained) and Ross wants to adopt it, despite the total lack of any empirical support that it'll do what it's intended to do, outside the normal process for considering and adopting new census questions. It is just blatantly contrary to the ordinary functioning of government and about structurally favoring Republicans for another decade, and none of you dipshits care.

    Look - you want an explosion of public corruption? You want further pilfering of the tax base for private interest? You want the expansion of state power into every aspect of your lives? Keep it up.

  • retiredfire||

    SimonP: another prog, who tries to call himself a libertarian.

    Read Section 2 of the 14th amendment and understand that they use "citizen of the United States" as a qualifier for apportionment.

  • SimonP||

    Another moron who cites the Constitution without reading or understanding it.

    You're right that the Fourteenth Amendment reduces representation proportionately to the number of citizens that a state disfranchises. It says nothing about non-citizens.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    While I generally agree with Matt's conclusions there's a whole lotta TDS going on here. At this point the proposal is simply to ask the question (citizen, illegal?) Not fail to count them. As Matt points out it's been done before by Democrat administrations. I frankly doubt that illegals are participating as it is. I know I wouldn't. I always give them the head count. The long form I throw away. If they show up on the front porch I ask them to leave. If they return I tell them to come back with a federal Marshall and a warrant.

  • FlameCCT||

    I would suggest it is only a simple question; Citizen or Non-Citizen (foreign national regardless of status).

    Further, this would give the federal government a better understanding of how many citizens should be voting in federal elections especially when one considers the fact that many States cannot verify the citizenship status of those voting in election, let alone if they are in the country legally or illegally.

  • ||

    Is Matt Welch repeating a viral journ-0-lisp falsehood that the Census stopped asking about citizenship in 1950? https://www.census.gov/prod/cen1990/cqc/cqc12.pdf

    Oh well, he's still tall. And kind of good looking.

  • Longtobefree||

    Under 13 U.S.C. § 9, census responses are "immune from legal process" and may not "be admitted as evidence or used for any purpose in any action, suit, or other judicial or administrative proceeding."

    So any claims that the citizenship question is intimidating are erroneous, as Flynn would say.

    More madness of liberals going to court to get rulings based on 'might be', 'could be', 'it is theoretically possible that', etc.

  • TxJack 112||

    There are countless Federal forms that require you to indicate if you are a US citizen. Why is doing the same on the census form an issue? If a person is legal or illegal is irrelevant, the census just counts them. The only reason Democrats would oppose this is they know the voting numbers in certain districts or states will not match the number of voters, proving voter fraud. If voter fraud is shown to be a real issue, then all their posturing and bluster will no longer work and progressives will suffer a huge setback in their quest for power. The one truth about progressives is they last thing they actually care about is truth and equality. Progressives only care about gaining and holding power so they can impose their "vision" on us all.

  • vek||

    Every time Trump pisses me off about something, which is basically all the time... He follows it up by doing something AWESOME that makes progressives assholes twitch! Then I get a big fat smile on my face and am pretty glad he's in there again. This is one of those things.

    Personally, I think they worded the language badly back in the day. It should have counted only legal citizens. But that's the law, so whatever. That said, since they screwed up, I'm totally okay with discouraging people who shouldn't even be here from filing. I hope he does use the responses as tip offs to go nail whatever illegals are dumb enough to fill out the thing.

    Those people have to friggin' go! This is coming from somebody who is part Mexican too! My home state is basically a third world country now, and I don't want to see the rest of the USA turn into that too.

  • Jayburd||

    MATT! What "survey data" is constitutionally required? Read your own article for christssakes!

  • BruceMajors||

  • pemaintoto||

    Jangan lupa: jumlah sensus yang sama yang memutuskan berapa banyak perwakilan di Kongres yang ditentukan oleh sebuah negara juga menentukan berapa banyak suara yang mereka dapatkan di Electoral College. Bagaimanapun juga, jutaan penjajah seharusnya tidak memiliki kemampuan untuk mempengaruhi pemerintah kita.

  • prediksifajar||

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