US House Republicans pass bill to prevent non-citizens from being counted in the census • Rhode Island Current

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Republicans passed a bill Wednesday to add a citizenship question to the census and exclude noncitizens from the official workforce when determining population for representation in Congress and in electoral votes.

The legislation, which passed on a party-line vote of 206-202, is part of a trend in Republican Party bills in the House of Representatives related to immigration as the November elections approach. Republicans and their presumptive presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, have focused their campaigns on immigration.

The Trump administration tried to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but the Supreme Court blocked it.

“We should not reward states and cities that violate federal immigration laws and enforce sanctuary policies with increased congressional representation,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement after the bill passed. “Common sense dictates that only American citizens should be counted for electoral apportionment.”

The bill, HR 7109, sponsored by North Carolina Republican Rep. Chuck Edwards, would affect the 2030 census and beyond if signed into law.

The census, which takes place every ten years, helps determine seats in Congress and can determine political power.

Since the first census in 1790, citizens and non-citizens have been included in the official population count of the US due to the 14th Amendment’s requirement to include “whole numbers of persons in every State.”

Edwards argued during debate on the bill that the Constitution did not specify that noncitizens should be counted in the census.

He argued that the word “persons” in the 14th Amendment “has no definition.”

It is unlikely to pass the Senate, which Democrats control by a narrow margin, and the White House has already issued a statement opposing the bill.

The White House said the bill would “prevent the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau from carrying out its constitutionally mandated responsibility to count the number of persons in the United States in the decennial census” and make it “more difficult to collect accurate data.” to acquire.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that the census remains as accurate as possible and free from political interference, and to upholding the long-standing principle of equal representation enshrined in our Constitution, census statutes, and historical tradition ,” the White House said. .

Numbers padded in Dem areas, GOP claims

During the debate in the House of Representatives, Republicans argued that areas with high immigrant populations take away representation in Congress from American citizens and benefit Democratic-led states.

“This is absolutely outrageous,” said Republican Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana. “This is 100% about vote stacking.”

Tennessee Republican Rep. Tim Burchett said states with more non-residents “will gain more congressional districts and more electoral votes.” He said those votes would also benefit Democrats and “sway things in their favor.”

Democrats warn of underserved Hispanic populations

Democrats argued that the bill would not only violate the Constitution, but also harm immigrant communities through undercounting and could jeopardize the accuracy of the census.

“The census is essential to democracy,” said Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin. “This bill would destroy the accuracy of the census, which could have something to do with its actual motivations.”

Raskin added that the bill would not only exclude all noncitizens, including permanent residents with green cards “who are on the path to citizenship.”

Raskin said the Republican Party’s move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census led to a chilling effect and an undercount of communities of color, especially Hispanics.

There were six states — Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas — that had fewer people than were estimated to live there in the 2020 census.

Nationally, there was a record undercount of Hispanics in the 2020 census of about 3 million, according to the Pew Research Center.

Eight states — Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah — had numbers that were too high, according to Pew.

The chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán of California, said the bill would have a chilling effect on the accuracy of the census and harm immigrant communities.

“It is a bill that threatens fair and equal representation of immigrant communities,” she said.