Bringing 'Change' to the Census?

By Jon Feere on February 11, 2009

Illegal-immigration enthusiasts at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) may be partially responsible for President Obama's recent decision to force the U.S. Census to report directly to the White House. According to Congressional Quarterly, the decision was made after NALEO issued a press release questioning the qualification of Obama's GOP appointee, saying:

Secretary of Commerce-designate Judd Gregg's record raises serious questions about his willingness to ensure that the 2010 census produces the most accurate possible count of the nation's population.


What makes the Census "accurate" according to NALEO? The inclusion of illegal aliens, of course. When the 2006 amnesty bill was being debated, NALEO opposed one component of the bill aimed at eliminating the practice of counting illegal aliens in the Census, saying:




S.2611 requires the Census Bureau to consider excluding undocumented immigrants from our Census enumeration for the reapportionment process. This exclusion would prevent our nation from obtaining an accurate Census count and achieving fair apportionment and representation in our nation.


While Senator Gregg's immigration record is a mixed bag, he is probably aware of how illegal immigration is dramatically warping congressional reapportionment. A Center for Immigration Studies report revealed that many low-immigration states which might seem unaffected by immigration are in fact experiencing a significant erosion of their political influence in Washington. For example, the presence of illegal aliens in high-immigration states caused Indiana, Michigan, and Mississippi to each lose one seat in the House in 2000, while Montana failed to gain a seat it otherwise would have. Illegal immigration not only redistributes seats in the House, it also affects presidential elections because the Electoral College is based on the size of congressional delegations.

Is Obama's plan to take greater control over the Census all about reapportionment? Congressmen in Utah's Republican delegation are suggesting it is. Interestingly, Utah failed to gain a seat it otherwise would have but for the inclusion of non-citizens in the 2000 Census.