Selected news coverage of

Remaking the Political Landscape
The Impact of Illegal and Legal Immigration
on Congressional Apportionment

October 2003

By Dudley L. Poston, Jr., Steven A. Camarota,
and Amanda K. Baumle

The Wall Street Journal
CNN -- Lou Dobbs Tonight (Transcript)
Fox News
National Review
The Houston Chronicle
Cox News Service
Scripps Howard News Service
The Charlotte Observer
The Raleigh News and Observer
The Missoulian (Missoula, Mont.)

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colo.)

Illegal aliens help states gain clout
Study claims census count skews apportionment process, especially for California
By Marjorie Valbrun
The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2003,,SB106685994050850500-search,00.html (pay site)

Illegal immigrants can't vote or contribute to campaigns, but they wield considerable yet little-noticed political clout by shifting congressional seats to California at the expense of other states.

That's the conclusion of a study to be released Thursday by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington organization that favors tougher immigration rules.

The report argues that because the census counts all residents, including people here illegally, the congressional apportionment process is skewed in favor of states with the most illegal immigrants. That also tilts power in presidential elections, since the Electoral College is based largely on House seats. Counting all noncitizens, legal and illegal, skews the figures even further, they say.

Based on federal immigration estimates, the group figures that 6.6 million illegal aliens were counted in the 2000 census. If they hadn't been, the study argues, California would have three fewer seats in the House, and North Carolina would have one less. North Carolina's small illegal immigrant population was just enough to put it over the cusp of gaining a seat.

Those seats came at the expense of Indiana, Michigan and Mississippi, which each lost a seat, and Montana, which would have gained a seat had illegal aliens not been counted, the report says.

The inclusion of all noncitizens in the census, including people here legally, gave the four most immigrant-heavy states nine seats they otherwise wouldn't have gotten -- six for California and one each for Florida, New York and Texas. North Carolina would just barely miss gaining a seat under this scenario.

"Low-immigration states that might seem unaffected by immigration are in fact experiencing a significant erosion of their political influence," the report says.

The report attempts to quantify the impact of counting noncitizens -- the subject of a long-running, oft-litigated controversy. Immigrant-heavy states long have complained that such residents are undercounted, decreasing their share of population-based federal grants. They argue for statistically adjusting the census to compensate -- a politically charged solution that would, in effect, shift money to Democratic-leaning districts. The Bush administration rejected the idea.

On the other side, advocates of tougher immigration policies at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) sued unsuccessfully to stop the government from including illegal aliens in the 1980 and 1990 census results. In the latter case, 42 House members joined FAIR's suit, but a federal judge called their complaints about shifting seats "sheer speculation."

Neutral experts and immigrant advocate groups don't dispute the report's underlying premise, though they say they cannot vouch for the report's specific conclusions about winner and loser states.

"For better or worse, this is the constitutional arrangement we have chosen to live by," says Demetrios Papademetriou, co-director of the Migration Policy Institute, which opposes restrictive immigration policies. "We're counting persons based not on legal status, but on being natural persons."

Unlike FAIR, the report's authors don't advocate excluding illegal immigrants from the census. They say it would be impractical. The census counts all residents, but noncitizen totals are actually estimates based on a citizenship question asked of only 15% of the population. If everybody were asked their citizenship status, so noncitizens could be excluded from the apportionment process, many might lie, the report suggests. Such a move also would be complicated by residences that include a mixture of citizens and legal and illegal immigrants.

Excluding noncitizens would require congressional approval, sparking stiff resistance from immigrant-heavy states. Even if Congress approved, years of litigation likely would follow over whether excluding noncitizens violated the Constitution. It requires "counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed."

"If you want to avoid this problem, you have to enforce the law and reduce illegal immigration ," says Steven Camarota, the center's research director.

B. Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of International Migration, says there may be another logical argument for including illegal aliens: fairness to their neighbors. "Adverse impacts of unauthorized migration are felt at the local level, particularly in infrastructure and schooling costs," he says. "By granting extra representation to unauthorized-heavy regions, do its legal residents get, perhaps, the additional clout they deserve?"

The study says the additional clout is considerable. House candidates in the nine low-immigration states that lost a seat had to capture at least 101,000 votes each to win in 2002, the study says. House candidates in California could win with as few as 68,000 votes, because so many residents are illegal aliens ineligible to vote. The study suggests that may violate the "one man, one vote" principle. "The votes of American citizens living in low-immigration districts count much less than those of citizens living in high-immigration districts," the report says.

The report points to the California's 31st District, where 43% of the residents are noncitizens and it takes as few as 34,000 votes to win a congressional seat. The district's congressman, Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, sees nothing wrong there. "I think the Constitution had it right, and the forefathers had it right," he said. "At the end of the day, everyone who comes to this country has a right to have representation."

CNN, October 23, 2003 Thursday
Transcript # 102300CN.V19

LOU DOBBS: We have reported extensively on this show about the benefits that illegal aliens enjoy in this country. There are now, as we said, an estimated 10 million illegal aliens in the United States. And their presence obviously affects government policy, our society and culture. They are also altering political power in this country, influencing congressional districts in which they live by gaining representation in Congress.

Lisa Sylvester has the report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every 10 years, a new census means some states will gain congressional seats and others will lose them. One factor influencing the number is the presence of illegal aliens. They can't vote, but they are counted. That means states with a high number of illegal get more congressional seats.

STEVEN CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The political influence of a state in Washington is partly dependent on the size of that state's delegation. Thus, illegal immigration is not just redistributing, in the abstract, seats. It's actually redistributing political power.

SYLVESTER: California is a major winner, picking up six seats because of the presence of illegal aliens and other noncitizens, including people on student or work visas. Other states that gained: Texas, Florida and New York, each gaining an additional seat.

Seats were siphoned away from Montana, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. How can this happen? Well, this is the system laid out by the Constitution, which requires counting every person.

DEMETRIOS PAPADEMETRIOU, MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE: Essentially, they are members of the community. Whether we like it or not, they contribute to the labor market. They contribute through their social activities. And, at the same time, they use the services that every community and state and city provide.

SYLVESTER: But votes count more in certain congressional districts, those with heavy immigrant populations that have fewer eligible voters relative to the total population. In two California districts, it takes fewer than 35,000 votes to win, vs. 100,000 votes needed to win in a state like Pennsylvania.

DAN STEIN, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Political subdivisions, political districts are shifted to states to give representation to illegal aliens, at the expense of U.S. citizens, five-, six-, seven-generation American citizens losing congressional representation to people who have crashed our borders. That's not fair.


SYLVESTER: Only two things can be done fix this, a constitutional amendment -- not an easy thing to do -- or a change in the immigration policy -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lou, obviously a change in immigration policy is not easy either. Is this trend, then, likely to continue?

SYLVESTER: It is, indeed. You have a million and a half immigrants and illegal aliens entering into the country every year, so you can project out into the future that, as we go on, this will have an even greater impact on congressional district seats -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.

Illegal Immigrants Affect Congressional Landscape
Fox News, October 26, 2003,2933,104108,00.html
(Fox News includes a video report at the bottom of their page.)

LOS ANGELES Even though the law doesn't allow them to vote, illegal immigrants are changing the landscape of the U.S. government and affecting the census' depiction of the population.

Four states, including California, gained congressional seats because of an immigration increase and nine states, including Montana, either lost or failed to gain seats, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

In California, the 31st District was created after the 2000 Census showed a major population increase, even though nearly half of those living there aren't American citizens.

Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, the U.S. congressman for the 31st District, said his constituents still pay taxes and contribute to society.

"An individual doesn't have to be a citizen to pay taxes you pay taxes if you work in this country, you pay taxes if you purchase something," he said.

But those like Montana's only U.S. congressman, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, said the illegal immigrants skew the congressional delegation.

"They cheat us, frankly, and it is the cheating that gives us underrepresentation," he said.

Count on It
Non-citizens - even illegal aliens - are included in the Census. Think this affects the political system?
By John J. Miller
National Review, December 8, 2003

Nobody in the House of Representatives has more constituents than Denny Rehberg. With some 900,000 people in his district which encompasses the whole state of Montana his population base is almost 50 percent larger than that of the typical House member. To complicate matters further, only Don Young of Alaska represents a larger geographical area. "It's a real balancing act," says Rehberg, a Republican. "I find that there're three sides to every two-sided issue."

It would be a lot easier representing all of these citizens if congressmen actually represented citizens. But they don't, or at least not exclusively. Under the current rules of apportionment, the 435 House seats are divvied up on the basis of the total number of people living in each state not just citizens, but also non-citizens and even illegal aliens. It's hard to believe: People whose very presence in the United States is against the law are granted formal representation in Washington.

This is the root cause of Rehberg's predicament. Montana doesn't have a second congressional seat because so many illegal aliens live in places like California, which receives three extra representatives for the 2 million illegal aliens who call it home. And Montana isn't the only loser in the zero-sum game of congressional apportionment. Indiana, Michigan, and Mississippi are also shy a seat in the House because of illegal aliens residing elsewhere, according to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies.

Most Americans don't realize that their democracy redistributes political power based on the settlement patterns of illegal aliens and other non-citizens. But these changes are significant enough to shuffle around a bunch of seats in the House of Representatives and perhaps even alter the outcome of a presidential election. If the next race for the White House is as close as the last one, it's possible that the federal government's practice of treating illegal aliens the same as citizens for purposes of apportionment will wind up costing George W. Bush the presidency.

The 2000 Census counted 18.5 million non-citizens, including an estimated 7 million illegal aliens. If these people were evenly distributed around the country, they would have no impact on how House seats are assigned. But immigrants tend to cluster in ethnic communities. Nearly 30 percent of America's non-citizens live in California, for example, compared with 12 percent of the total U.S. population. These non-citizens most of them legal immigrants are enough to boost the Golden State's congressional delegation by six whole members. Florida, New York, and Texas also gain one extra seat apiece because of their large non-citizen populations. Nine states lose out: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Aside from the compelling matter of principle involved, these apportionment schemes distort our politics in other ways: Democrats benefit. That's because non-citizen apportionment allows the creation of congressional districts full of people who don't have the right to vote and Democrats almost always win in these places. Consider California's 31st congressional district, where 41 percent of the inhabitants are non-citizens. Last year, Xavier Becerra one of the most left-wing members of Congress carried it by attracting fewer than 55,000 votes, despite its population of 639,000. In many congressional districts, the winner needs two times this level of support. Steve Sailer of UPI crunched the numbers for California's whole delegation: In the eight districts won by Hispanics (all Democrats), an average of 80,000 voters went to the polls. In the other 45 districts, an average of 143,000 turned out that's 79 percent more.

Racial gerrymandering compounds the problem. About 40 percent of the country's Hispanics are not citizens; packing as many of them as possible into single districts creates conglomerations of people who can't pick their representatives. In 18th-century England, parliamentary constituencies that had dwindled to just a handful of voters were labeled "rotten boroughs." Non-citizen apportionment has delivered something very much like this to our own shores, though we might call them "rotten barrios."

Their corrupting influence may one day reach to the presidential level. Here's an illustration of what may be at stake, based on the fact that a state's electoral votes are the sum of its two senators and the number of its House members. In the 2000 election, Bush earned 271 electoral votes to Al Gore's 267. If any of the states in Bush's column had gone the other way including New Hampshire (4 electoral votes) or traditionally Democratic West Virginia (5) we'd now be in the third year of the Gore administration.

Looking ahead, let's assume that Bush carries the same 30 states in 2004 as he did in 2000. Because this will be the first election following the 2000 Census reapportionment, Bush would collect 278 electoral votes from this same set of states. If both New Hampshire and West Virginia were to defect, Bush would most likely retire to his ranch in Crawford. But let's assume further that illegal aliens weren't counted in apportionment. In this scenario, Democrat-friendly California surrenders a bit of its political clout to Bush-country states like Indiana and Mississippi. The president's 30-state victory would earn him 280 electoral votes. Suddenly he could afford to lose both New Hampshire and West Virginia and still secure a second term. Because of illegal-alien apportionment, however, Bush now must prevail in at least one of these states (or replace their electoral votes with fresh wins elsewhere).

On the surface, this doesn't look like a tough problem to solve. Why not just quit counting illegal aliens for apportionment? In 1989, the Senate actually passed a bill that would have excluded illegal aliens from apportionment calculations. In the House, Tom Ridge then a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, now secretary of homeland security offered a similar measure. Democrats defeated it. If Ridge had been successful, however, it might not have mattered: The (first) Bush administration was threatening a veto because of the huge bureaucratic headache the law would have created just months before the decennial Census was scheduled to occur.

What's more, the states with large non-citizen populations want these non-voters to count toward apportionment, since it increases their political power. And when a state the size of California squares off against the likes of Montana in a clash of political interests, might usually equals right. "The result is a system in which states have a perverse incentive to attract immigrants, including illegal ones," says Noah Pickus of North Carolina's Institute for Emerging Issues.

Even if the political difficulties were surmounted and Congress altered apportionment calculations, however, legal hurdles would remain. The Fourteenth Amendment calls for apportioning representatives based on "the whole number of persons" in each state. Defenders of the status quo insist that this means everybody must count, regardless of his citizenship. They also like to point out that the Constitution previously has recognized the representation of the disenfranchised: Before the Civil War, each slave counted as three-fifths of a person. Yet this is a spurious claim. While it's true that being counted as fractional persons was an indignity to blacks, they would have been better off not being counted at all: It was the southern states, not the northern ones, that wanted their non-voting human property to count in apportionment schemes, as it boosted their political power.

Today, apportionment doesn't really include everybody. Foreign tourists, business travelers, and diplomats don't count, even if they're in the United States on the day the Census is taken. Yet counting illegal aliens has become the standard operating procedure, and so anything that upsets it would produce a flock of messy lawsuits.

It's not realistic to hope that any of this can be corrected before next year though making a change in time for the 2010 Census is probably achievable. Between now and then, the case for reform will only grow more convincing, as the non-citizen population continues to grow in the absence of major immigration reforms. "I wouldn't be surprised to see the next Census capture 2 million foreign students," says Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies. "A whole congressional district could move from one state to another simply because of foreigners pursuing degrees at American universities."

Of course, nothing will stop this unless a political leader decides to make a stand against non-citizen or illegal-alien apportionment. It won't be Congressman Rehberg. "I'm focused on a lot of other issues right now," he says. "Besides, they can't take away any more of Montana's seats."

Immigrants skew states' political clout, critics say
By Julie Mason
The Houston Chronicle, October 24, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Counting illegal immigrants in the last census shifted political clout to states like California at the expense of low-immigration states elsewhere, according to a new report by immigration policy experts.

The Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank that favors curbing immigration, claims in a recent study that four states lost seats in Congress as a result of illegal immigration.

"Many low-immigration states that might seem unaffected by immigration are in fact experiencing a significant erosion of their political influence in Washington," the report said.

The Constitution requires the Census Bureau every 10 years to count the population for the purpose of allotting seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Critics of those who would exclude immigrants from that count note that many pay taxes and participate in the civic life of their communities.

The number of House seats allotted to each state is based on population. As a result, states with growing populations of immigrants -- such as Texas, California and New York -- gained additional seats in the House of Representatives following the 2000 Census.

Since the number of House seats is fixed at 435, those additions came at the expense of other states -- Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana, the study's authors conclude.

"Immigration takes away representation from states composed almost entirely of U.S. citizens and results in the creation of new districts in states with large numbers of noncitizens," the report said.

The debate over whether to count illegal immigrants in the census has been bitter and long-running. Around the time of the 2000 Census, the issue was particularly intense in Texas, which has a thriving population of immigrants both legal and otherwise.

In addition to undocumented immigrants, the census counts prison inmates and children -- all of whom are not permitted to vote. Nearly 7 million illegal immigrants were counted in the last census.

Including illegal immigrants in the tally creates "tension" in the one-man, one-vote principle of democracy, the authors argue, because in immigrant-heavy districts with few actual voters, elections are decided by a limited number of residents.

And therein lies a key flaw behind the immigration think tank's reasoning, said Jeff Passell, an immigration expert at the Urban Institute, a Washington-based social-policy research organization.

Since the allotment of congressional seats is based on population and not voters, Passell said, an argument over whether to count illegal immigrants is irrelevant.

"This issue has been decided in the courts," Passell said. "The law doesn't say that congressional districts should have the same number of voters; it says they should have the same number of people. And the last I heard, undocumented immigrants are people."

Even the authors of the study conclude that changing the law would mean a divisive and difficult debate in Congress, and excluding illegal immigrants from the census would be "impractical."

According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. population grew to 284.8 million in July 2001, up from 281.4 million in April 2000. Thirteen percent of the population is Hispanic, 12.7 percent is black, and 4 percent is Asian.

Hispanics make up the nation's largest minority group. The Census Bureau released a report in June that found the Hispanic population stood at 38.8 million, an increase of almost 9 percent in the two years ending July 2002. That was four times the growth rate for the U.S. population overall and about 14 times greater than the rate for non-Hispanic whites.

Texas, with 7.3 million Hispanics, is second to California, whose 11.9 million Hispanic residents make up about one-third of its total population. New York is third, followed by Florida and Illinois.

Illegal residents boost state's representation in U.S. House
California benefiting more than any other in the United States
By Julia Malone, Cox News Service
The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune, October 24, 2003,1413,82~1865~1720371,00.html#

WASHINGTON -- The recent influx of illegal immigrants has changed the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives, giving California three new seats as North Carolina added one, a study has found.

The Center for Immigration Studies found that the nation's system of reapportioning the House by a Census count of all residents, whether they are legal or not, rewards states with the most illegal immigrants while penalizing others.

Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana each lost a congressional seat as a result of illegal immigration elsewhere, the study said.

The redistribution of House seats is evidence that historic immigration flows are having "a very significant impact on the political landscape," said Steve Camarota, a co-author of the study and research director for the research group, which favors a reduction in immigration.

Among other findings released Wednesday:

The growing numbers of all non-citizens -- both legal and illegal -- prompted nine House seats to change states after the 2000 Census. The population trend was responsible for six of California's new seats as well as one each for Texas, Florida and New York. The "loser" states were Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin.

Some congressional districts have so many non-citizens and so few voters that it takes less than 35,000 votes to win an election, compared to almost 100,000 votes in a typical district. The Los Angeles district of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat, has a population that is 43 percent non-citizen. In South Florida, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Republican, represents a constituency that is 28 percent non-citizen.

Despite efforts to naturalize newcomers, the number of non-citizens increased dramatically to 18.5 million in 2000, up from just under 12 million in 1990.

The findings also point to a potential partisan effect, said Dudley L. Poston Jr., a sociology professor at Texas A&M University and a co-author of the study.

He said that states that were in the Republican column in the last presidential election would have gained nine seats without the impact of immigration.

However, the most provocative finding, said Camarota, was that states with high rates of citizens are losing representatives to states with high rates of illegal residents.

"I think most people recognize that one of the key defining features of our political system is that it's supposed to represent only people who are supposed to be here," he said. "I think people would be shocked to find out that that is not the case."

Jeff Passel, an immigration specialist at the Urban Institute, a liberal research group, said the system is working as it was designed.

"The purpose of the House of Representatives is not to represent citizens or voters but to represent people," he said.

The aim has always been to draw districts that are equal in population size, not necessarily voter numbers, he said, pointing out that women were counted long before they were given the vote.

Even so, he said it was unfortunate that federal courts have never ruled on the issue of whether citizens' votes are being diluted by illegal residents.

Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., who is leading an effort to crack down on illegal immigration, called the study "very troubling, but sadly, not surprising."

He blamed "safe havens" in several cities, such as Houston, Los Angeles and New York, where police are discouraged from helping to enforce immigration laws.

"We have no business paying these cities to do a job they won't do and then permitting a flawed census collection process to silence the political voice of legal residents -- only to hand it over to illegal and criminal aliens," Norwood said.

Report: Immigration levels cost Republicans 9 House seats in 2000
By Steve Brown
Cybercast News Service, October 24, 2003\\Politics\\archive\\200310\\POL20031024a.htm

The heavy influx of immigrants cost the Republican Party nine House seats during the 2000 political redistricting process, according to a report released Thursday. At least one of those seats was lost as a result of illegal aliens being counted as part of the national population by the U.S. Census Bureau, the report's authors said.

The report, "Remaking the Political Landscape: The Impact of Illegal and Legal Immigration on Congressional Apportionment," was compiled by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). It examined the redistribution of House seats as a result of immigration.

The nation's 435 U.S. House seats are distributed among the states based on the census results every 10 years, with each state automatically getting at least one constitutionally mandated seat.

For example, as millions of Americans have left northern states for warmer climates in the south, those southern states have gained more seats. The influx of illegal aliens and other non-citizens has also affected congressional reapportionment since census takers count those individuals as well.

Dudley Poston, a Texas A&M sociology professor and author of the CIS report, examined how congressional seats would have been reapportioned if the Census Bureau had not counted naturalized American citizens, legal permanent residents (green card holders), illegal aliens and those on long-term temporary visas.

"If we do this, there's a 16-seat change (among the states) in the 2000 apportionment. California loses nine of its 53 seats. This means that nine of its 53 seats are attributable to its immigrant population," Poston said. It could actually be more than nine, Poston said, since some immigrants end up bearing children in the United States who are not considered foreign-born. "So California is the big winner," he said.

Poston then turned to the partisan implications by designating states Republican or Democrat based on the 2000 presidential election results - the big red and blue map.

"If the foreign-born were excluded, the Republicans would gain nine seats," Poston said.

Steven Camorata, CIS director of research, added: "The nine seats redistributed by non-citizens has a very serious effect when one considers that only a total of 12 seats in their entirety changed hands in 2000."

Poston used state estimates prepared by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which indicated that nearly 7 million illegal aliens were counted in the 2000 Census. The illegal alien population, which Poston said is heavily concentrated in just three states - California, Florida and New York - resulted in the creation of at least one new Democratic-dominated congressional district and at the expense of the Republican Party.

The report did not pinpoint a particular district that Democrats, traditionally the favorite party of illegal aliens, seized from Republicans. Rather, the combination effect of the illegal population in America produced the GOP loss of at least one seat, according to the report.

"Illegal immigration also has a significant effect on presidential elections because the Electoral College is based on the size of congressional delegations," the CIS study indicated.

According to the report, many low-immigration states that might seem unaffected by immigration experience "significant voter erosion" of their political influence in Washington.

"Taking away representation from states composed almost entirely of U.S. citizens so that new districts can be created in states with large numbers of non-citizens makes immigrant-induced reapportionment very different from reapportionment caused when natives relocate to other states," Camorata pointed out.

Of the nine states that lost a seat in 2000, only one in 50 residents is a non-citizen, the report revealed. By contrast, one out of every seven California residents is a non-citizen and six of the nine seats redistributed due to non-citizens went to California.

These findings, Poston suggested, might spur a movement among the public and lawmakers to revise the method of census taking.

"The exclusion of illegal immigrants may well be the scenario most likely to gain popular support and spark a legal challenge," Poston said.

The report noted that the Supreme Court has never addressed the substantive legal arguments surrounding the exclusion of illegal aliens in the census. The Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR) filed two lawsuits challenging the Census Bureau's methodology of counting illegal aliens, but both suits were dismissed. In the latter suit, plaintiffs included 40 members of Congress and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"Trying to deal with this problem by excluding non-citizens, illegal or legal, would be very difficult politically and is probably impossible as a practical matter," Camorata concluded.

According to Noah Pickus, the director of North Carolina's Institute for Emerging Issues and a participant in Thursday's panel discussion, the findings lend credence to the notion that states have a "perverse" incentive to attract larger populations of illegal aliens, which "undermines the very notion" of representative democracy on which the country was founded.

"The country faces a choice: either continue to have record amounts of illegal immigration and therefore continue to redistribute seats away from states comprised mostly of American citizens to states with large numbers of illegal and legal immigrants, or better enforce immigration laws so as to reduce if not eliminate illegal immigration," Camorata said.

Immigrants affect congressional representation, report says
By Kemberly Gong
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, October 24, 2003

WASHINGTON - Immigration can decrease the political power of some states, according to a report released Thursday.

The Center for Immigration Studies, which favors limits on immigration, said both illegal and legal immigration affect congressional apportionment.

The study said states such as Texas, California and Florida have more congressional representation because of higher numbers of non-citizens.

Congressional apportionment, or the division of state population to determine how many members a state will have in the House of Representatives, occurs every 10 years, after the census. All residents are counted, even non-citizens.

According to the study, Texas gained one new congressional seat in 2001 because of higher populations reported in the 2000 Census. It also gained a seat after the 1990 Census.

Gains like these are unfair to other states that don't have high levels of immigration, such as Indiana or Michigan, said the study's co-author, Steven A. Camarota, of the CIS.

"Immigration takes away representation from states composed almost entirely of U.S. citizens, so new districts can be created in states with large non-citizen populations," he said.

Camarota said that, because non-citizens can't vote in congressional elections, citizens who live in districts with many non-citizens have more political clout than people who live in districts with very few non-citizens.

Dudley L. Poston, one of the study's authors and a sociology professor at Texas A&M University, said that more than 10 percent of U.S. residents are foreign born. CIS estimated the illegal immigrant population at 7 million people.

Though he agreed that immigration levels hurt political representation in states with lower immigrant levels, Poston said in an interview that a shift of immigrants out of the state would have economic consequences.

"If you reduced illegal immigration, it would have a big impact on Texas because of the reliance of the state economy on workers," Poston said. "These are jobs that native Texans and legally resident Texans don't want to do."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2000, Texas had a population of roughly 20.8 million people, 13.9 percent of whom said they were foreign born. But for border towns like Brownsville, the numbers of immigrants are higher. One-quarter of residents living in Cameron County, which includes Brownsville, in 2000 were foreign born.

But those statistics may not be accurate, Poston said, because people are not required to answer questions about immigrant status.

"People aren't going to say, 'Yes, I'm here illegally,' because they know it's against the law," Poston said.

The study concluded that the country faces two choices - keeping the status quo or reducing the number of immigrants, which Camarota acknowledged would result in "acrimonious" political battles.

The study updates a 1998 CIS report that predicted what Camarota said has come to pass.

Noah Pickus, a professor at North Carolina State University, was not an author of the report, but was included in the Capitol Hill panel discussion of the study.

He agreed with the authors that immigration presented problems for some states, and said states have a "perverse incentive to increase the number of illegal aliens" to gain more political representation in the House.

And though he agreed that reducing immigration would help balance apportionment, he said it was not the only option that should be considered. He said if legal immigration were reduced, it could cause a spike in illegal immigration.

There would be "more of the same kind of apportionment problems, but it would be more based in the illegal dimension," he said.

Group: N.C. shouldn't have new seat
Illegal immigrants raised count, leading to 13th district, study says
By Cristina Breen Bolling
The Charlotte Observer, October 25, 2003

An influx of illegal immigrants caused North Carolina to gain its new 13th congressional seat and caused other states to lose representation, according to a new report by a Washington-based group calling for stricter immigration controls.

The Center for Immigration Studies report says the nation's method of doling out House seats by counting all residents -- legal or not -- rewards states with large numbers of illegal immigrants, while penalizing states with lower numbers.

Political analysts and politicians criticized the report Friday, saying illegal immigration is one of many factors that contributed to North Carolina's population growth and its new House seat.

The study said California gained three seats because of illegal immigrants and Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana each lost a seat as a result of illegal immigration elsewhere.

Seats in the U.S. House are redistributed every decade based on updated census results. The census doesn't ask whether respondents are here legally, but immigration officials estimate that 206,000 undocumented immigrants live in North Carolina and census officials say most filled out census forms.

"Had the United States enforced its laws, North Carolina wouldn't have gotten its seat. ... It was illegal immigration that pushed you over the threshold to get that seat," said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies.

"From North Carolina's perspective, that may be a good thing, but one would like to think seats are distributed on where legal (residents) would be living," Camarota said.

Critics of the study on Friday said the report states the obvious -- that North Carolina's illegal-immigrant population grew -- but it wrongly singles out immigrants for changing districts.

"It's not really fair to say the only reason we got that extra seat is because of illegal immigrants," said Bob Coats, an analyst with the N.C. Data Center in Raleigh.

"We certainly had an increase in the Hispanic population, but that wasn't the only population that grew. We also had large in-migration from other parts of the nation."

North Carolina and Utah tussled last year after North Carolina won the last available U.S. House district seat by 856 people over Utah. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Utah's request to take the seat after it criticized North Carolina's method of counting.

"When it's this close, any number of things could tip the balance -- the biotech industry, the computer-software industry. The list goes on and on," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., a Raleigh resident who won the new 13th seat last year.

UNCC professor and political scientist Ted Arrington, another critic of the report, said it's Congress' job to decide whether illegal immigrants or other noncitizens should continue to be counted when congressional lines are drawn.

"They should make (that decision) on the basis of what's good public policy," Arrington said.

N.C. clout tied to immigrants
A report says counting illegal immigrants helped the
state get another House seat, but a critic raises questions
By Michael Easterbrook
The Raleigh (NC) News and Observer, October 24, 2003

 Illegal immigrants have boosted North Carolina's political strength, helping to give it more clout in Congress than it has has had since before the Civil War, according to a study released Thursday.

The study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based group pressing for more stringent immigration rules, said North Carolina picked up a 13th congressional seat because of nearly 200,000 illegal immigrants counted in the 2000 census. Seats in the U.S. House are redistributed every decade based on the census.

North Carolina's gain was another state's loss, according to the study: It found that illegal immigrants throughout the country "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."

"If you fail to control your borders, you're going to end up with political distortions like this," said Steven Camarota, the center's research director and a co-author of the study. "North Carolina gets its seat because people from other countries knowingly violated immigration laws and are here without permission."

The study's authors relied on census estimates of the number if illegal immigrants in each state. They subtracted the estimated number of illegal immigrants from each state's population and calculated how seats in the U.S. House would have been distributed without them.

At least one immigration specialist said the methodology was flawed.

"Immigration is only one of a number of factors [that determine apportionment]," said Gunther Peck, an associate professor at Duke University who teaches immigration history and policy.

This isn't the first time the process by which North Carolina gained the seat has been questioned. With 13 seats, North Carolina has not had such a large congressional delegation since 1843.

Officials in Utah claimed the seat would have gone to them had the census counted their overseas missionaries. Utah lost a challenge based on another argument in the U.S. Supreme Court, but its representatives in Congress are continuing to fight for the seat, claiming the census double-counted 2,500 students at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The assertion that North Carolina gained the seat because of illegal immigrants is unlikely to strengthen Utah's case, said U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat from Raleigh who won the 13th District seat in 2002.

"I can't imagine that it would," Miller said. "The constitution provides that apportionment is based ... on all residents in the United States, not just citizens."

Lawsuits filed in 1979 and 1988 by the Federation of American Immigration Reform, another group calling for curbs on immigration, tried to stop counting of illegal immigrants. Neither suit succeeded.

Camarota said that reviving those efforts would probably fail. He said authorities should reduce the number of illegal immigrants.

But Peck, the Duke professor, said such efforts are unlikely to succeed. "There aren't many Americans who are willing to go out and harvest sweet potatoes or blueberries at subminimum wages," he said.

State denied House seat because of illegal immigration, study says
By Charles S. Johnson
The Missoulian (Missoula, Montana), October 24, 2003

HELENA - Counting illegal immigrants in the census cost Montana a U.S. House seat in 1990 and denied it a new district in 2000, a study by a group that favors immigration restrictions concludes.

The study, by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank that backs tougher restrictions on immigrants, contends that counting illegal immigrants in the census benefits states with the most illegal immigrants, while it penalizes other states without them. California gained three new House seats after the 2000 census because of illegal immigrants, while North Carolina gained one, said the study, reported in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.

"The presence of illegal aliens in other 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," the study said.

What's more, the study said, illegal immigration not only realigns seats in the House but reshapes presidential elections because the Electoral College is based on the size of state congressional delegations.

The census also counted noncitizens in 2000, which besides illegal immigrants includes people on long-term temporary visas, such as foreign students, guest workers and other exchange visitors, and legal permanent residents, also known as green-card holders, the report said.

Looking at the House seats redistributed because of all noncitizens counted in the 2000 census, not just illegal immigrants, California gained six seats, while Florida, New York and Texas each gained one, the report said. Montana was one of nine states that either didn't gain a seat it should have or lost a seat, the study said.

Despite a growing population from 1980 to 1990, Montana lost one of its two U.S. House seats after the 1990 census because it didn't gain enough residents to retain the seat.

That led to the 1992 showdown between the two longtime U.S. House incumbents for the state's single remaining House seat. Democrat Pat Williams, who had represented the western district, topped Republican Ron Marlenee, who had represented the eastern district.

Although Montana's population kept growing in the 1990s, the state lacked enough residents to regain the other House seat after the 2000 census.

Although illegal immigrants can't vote, they are counted as part of the federal census each year.

Officials from the Montana Republican and Democratic parties declined to comment on the study, which may be found at

Brad Keena, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said his boss wants to look into the study's conclusions.

"I suspect the average Montana citizen would rightly call this an outrage," Keena said of the study's conclusion. "While it's important for the government to know who lives where in the United States, a distinction still has to be made between the lawful population and those here illegally."

Added Keena: "The stakes are too high to allow one state to use an inflated population count to win more representation at the expense of lawful residents of other states."

Rosen: Non-citizens in politics
By Mike Rosen
Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colo.), January 2, 2004,1299,DRMN_86_2546513,00.html

One of these days we might actually get serious about enforcing our nation's immigration laws. If you needed another reason to support such action, I've got one for you. A recent analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals that even though non-citizens, as our Constitution directs, can't vote in this country, 18.5 million of them were included in apportioning seats among the states in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2000 census. This number is up two and half times just since 1980.

Included in the 18.5 million population of non-citizens - along with legal immigrants, temporary visitors, foreign students and guest workers - are 7 million illegal aliens. (Please note the use of the accurate terminology, "illegal alien": a trespasser from another country who is not a U.S. citizen. Not to be confused with the politically correct euphemism, "undocumented immigrant," many of whom, in fact, have documents, albeit forged.) So we have a sizable group, 7 percent of the total U.S. population, that has no constitutional right to vote but does influence the makeup of Congress.

 For the record, I'm not anti-immigration, just anti-illegal immigration. I encourage and applaud legal immigrants who become naturalized U.S. citizens and earn the right to vote.

Nonetheless, precisely because seats in the U.S. House are apportioned among the states on the basis of each state's relative population, we have a growing problem of non-citizen immigrants - legal and illegal - significantly altering the balance of political power in this country by inflating the influence of some states at the expense of others.

Here's how it works. Contemporary immigration, you see, isn't evenly distributed throughout the country. Two- thirds of the foreign-born population lives in just six states. Almost a third of all non-citizens live in the state of California. As a consequence, the count of California's non-citizen population, included in the official census, awards that state six more seats in the US House than it would otherwise have. New York, Texas and Florida also gain seats, at the expense of nine low-immigration states that, were it not for the non-citizen count, would have one more seat each: Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Utah.

This creates anomalies. While the population of the average House district is about 650,000, Montana's lone congressman, Denny Rehberg, is spread thinly among 900,000 Montanans. If California weren't over-represented, Montana would have two representatives. It also undermines the principle of "one man, one vote." In the nine states with low non-citizen populations that lost seats, it takes about 100,000 votes to win a congressional race. By contrast, in California's immigrant-heavy 31st Congressional District, 43 percent are non-citizens. There, it took only 34,000. This is a formula for racial gerrymandering.

Then there's the distorting impact on presidential elections. The number of votes each state gets in the winner-take-all electoral college tally is the sum of that state's House districts plus two (Senate seats). California gets six more Electoral College votes thanks to its non-citizens who, in essence, are being counted as voters while nine other states are being cheated out of one vote, each. With Bush winning the last election by the slim margin of 271 electoral votes to Gore's 267, the potential of non-citizens, to say nothing of illegal aliens, deciding presidential elections is dismaying. Obviously, the states that are favored by this policy like the idea of having larger congressional delegations and will use their influence to protect the status quo.

In years past, the influence of non-citizens in our voting process was negligible. The recent wave of immigration and its maldistribution has changed all that. The Constitution doesn't specify the method nor does it define residency requirements for purposes of apportionment. The executive branch or Congress may have the authority to rewrite the current rules, which have evolved pretty much as a matter of public policy inertia. Any changes would no doubt be challenged in court by one interest group or another. Since it has never addressed the constitutionality of counting or excluding illegal aliens or non-citizens, it would be interesting to hear what the Supremes have to say about this.