The illegal immigration surge revives a centuries-old census spat

Surge in Illegal Immigration Reignites Longstanding Census Debate

From the very beginning of America, there has been a fierce debate among leaders about who gets to hold power in Congress. This debate was especially intense 237 years ago at the constitutional convention, where the main issue was how to decide the number of seats each state would have in the House of Representatives.

Back then, representatives from states that supported slavery wanted slaves to be counted in the census to increase their states’ representation. On the other hand, abolitionists argued that only citizens should be counted and urged the country to focus on resolving the issue of slavery rather than using it to gain political advantage.

Nowadays, as people are moving in large numbers from states like California and New York to Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Idaho, we’re seeing a significant shift in electoral power.

The topic of census inclusion is hot once again in Congress, as some try to use the current surge in illegal immigration for their own gain.

The reason the census is so important is that it determines how the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are distributed among the states. More people in a state means more representation.

States losing residents to others with more conservative policies are concerned about their representation in the House. This migration is changing the political landscape.

As people move to states with more conservative policies, the arrival of immigrants in sanctuary cities offers a chance for states losing residents to maintain their population numbers. This situation might explain why there’s been little action on border security from some politicians.

In reaction, some have pushed for a census that counts only U.S. citizens. This issue came to the forefront in 2019 when President Trump tried to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Although the Supreme Court stopped the addition of this question through a bureaucratic process, it’s always been within Congress’s power to require such a question by law.

Understanding the stakes, Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) recently attempted to pass an amendment to ensure the census counts only citizens. However, his effort was unsuccessful in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The defeat of this amendment was celebrated by progressives and immigration groups as a win for immigrant rights. Yet, this situation mirrors the debates over counting slaves for census purposes in 1787, showing a continued focus on power over the well-being of individuals.

Those crossing into the U.S. illegally face many dangers, from environmental hazards to human traffickers. Despite claims of advocating for immigrants, the lack of action on border security reveals true priorities.

Like their historical counterparts, some today aim to count as many people as possible within their states, showing little concern for their actual well-being. Their focus is on the numbers, not the individuals.

If there’s to be a solution to the border crisis, it may require compromise. In these negotiations, remembering the founders’ ability to see through their opponents’ motives could be crucial.