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White House Firmly Opposes GOP Effort To Exclude Non-Citizens From Census

 May 9, 2024

The White House has officially declared its opposition to a proposed bill that could transform the U.S. census by excluding non-citizens from congressional district counts.

The Equal Representation Act, backed by the GOP, seeks to amend census procedures to impact future electoral representation, as Fox News reports.

New Legislation Proposes Major Census Changes

Introduced recently, the Equal Representation Act would mandate the addition of a citizenship question to the national census. This question would require individuals to state whether they are a U.S. citizen, a resident non-citizen, or an undocumented immigrant.

According to the bill, the primary purpose is to adjust the way congressional districts are apportioned by excluding non-citizens from the counts. This change would notably influence the political landscape, particularly in areas with high non-citizen populations.

The bill targets the 2030 census and is seen by supporters as a means to counterbalance what they perceive as Democratic advantages due to recent migration patterns.

Impact on Major U.S. Cities and Constitutional Concerns

Regions where this bill would have significant effects include major Democratic strongholds such as Chicago, New York, and California. These areas, known for their diverse populations, could see a shift in their political representation if non-citizens were excluded from census counts.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), representing the White House, has criticized the bill for potentially violating the U.S. Constitution. The OMB emphasizes that the Census Bureau's duty is to count all persons residing in the U.S., as mandated by the Constitution.

Moreover, the OMB points out that this approach could breach the Fourteenth Amendment, which stipulates that congressional seats should be distributed based on the total number of people in each state, not just citizens.

Arguments For and Against the Bill

Supporters of the bill, such as Sen. Bill Hagerty and Rep. Chuck Edwards, argue that including non-citizens in the census dilutes the political influence of U.S. citizens and misrepresents the electoral landscape. They claim this strategy has been used by Democrats to maintain power in traditionally strong Democratic areas despite population shifts.

Hagerty criticized the current system, stating, "It is unconscionable that illegal immigrants and non-citizens are counted toward congressional district apportionment." He expressed concerns over the potential for political manipulation through population counts.

Edwards echoed these sentiments, highlighting the ethical issues of using non-citizen counts to influence federal representation. He stressed the importance of aligning congressional seats and electoral votes with the citizen population only.

Broadening the Debate on Citizenship and Representation

This debate extends beyond the census to other areas of governance, including voter registration. Another legislative proposal being considered would require proof of U.S. citizenship for registering to vote in federal elections.

This suggests a broader Republican strategy to redefine who is counted and who can vote in federal elections, reflecting ongoing national debates over immigration and voting rights.

The dialogue around these issues is intensified by recent statistics showing over 2.4 million migrant encounters at the U.S. southern border in fiscal year 24, highlighting the ongoing relevance of immigration issues in U.S. policy.

White House and OMB Reiterate Constitutional Duties

The OMB has expressed concerns about the practical implications of the Equal Representation Act, noting that it would likely lead to increased costs and complexities in conducting the census. They argue that it would also make it harder to gather accurate data.

Their official statement reiterates the constitutional mandate to count all persons: "[The bill] would violate the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which requires that the number of seats in the House of Representatives ‘be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State.…’"

By highlighting these issues, the OMB underscores the potential legal and logistical challenges posed by the bill, questioning its alignment with constitutional principles.

Conclusion: A Controversial Proposal with Broad Implications

In conclusion, the Equal Representation Act represents a significant departure from traditional census practices by seeking to exclude non-citizens from apportionment calculations.

This proposal not only raises questions about constitutional fidelity and practical implementation but also sparks a broader debate about the nature of representation and citizenship in the United States.

As the discussion progresses, it will undoubtedly continue to draw attention from various stakeholders across the political spectrum.