Though the issue of the census and counting illegal aliens has largely fallen into the background, it’s popped up as a topic again in the wake of a recent study.
The Center for Immigration Studies put out a report that’s making the rounds on the right as evidence of a coming doomsday scenario. The claim goes that California will pick up 11 new Congressional seats after the 2020 election because of increased immigration numbers, including illegal aliens. They also claim, for example, that Ohio will lose three seats and that in total, 24 of 26 lost seats will be redistributed to blue states.
One place I saw this reported was at The Daily Wire.
The presence of all immigrants and their U.S.-born minor children will redistribute 26 seats in the House in 2020
Of the 26 seats that will be lost, 24 are from states that voted for Trump in 2016
Democrat-controlled California is gaining *11 seats*https://t.co/CU8O8z0Ggd
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 23, 2019
This isn’t meant to call out Ryan Saavedra, as he’s a killer reporter who I get information from routinely, but in this case, the CIS put out its report in a way that’s really misleading.
When I first saw these claims being talked about on Twitter, my first thought was that something seemed off. California has had emigration issues over the past decade, although like every state, their total population has grown. But has California really grown exponentially faster than every other state, thereby picking up 11 seats while others lose theirs? If that were true, Republicans would be apt to just pack it up as a party, because they’d never win the House again.
But is it true? The answer is no, not even close. In fact, California is probably going to lose a seat in 2020 compared to what it currently has.
So what’s the CIS actually trying to quantify? Well, let’s take a look.
The presence of all immigrants (naturalized citizens, legal residents, and illegal aliens) and their U.S.-born minor children will redistribute 26 seats in the House in 2020.
Then they go on to list some bullet points such as this.
California will have 11 more seats in 2020 than it otherwise would have; New York and Texas will have four more seats each; Florida will have three more seats; New Jersey will have two more seats; and Illinois and Massachusetts will each have one additional seat.
“Would have” is the key phrase here. CIS is saying that without immigration at all, something that obviously is not reality, certain states would have more seats, while others would have less who currently have more. California is not picking up 11 seats in 2020. Rather, they might have 11 seats less if no immigrants at all were part of their population. CIS presents the information in a way that makes it sound like a coming change when they are really presenting what things might look like sans all immigration.
Frankly, I think that’s a pretty stupid thing to try to quantify. Naturalized citizens and permanent residents garner representation under the Constitution, so what’s the point of lumping them in with illegal immigrants? The CIS would have been much better served to only focus on how many seats California currently enjoys due to the counting of illegal immigrants for apportionment (something I think the Constitution clearly doesn’t intend or allow). By narrowing the argument, they could make a real case for the Trump administration’s push to include a citizenship question on the census. Including all immigrants in the numbers undermines that argument as you begin to mix legalities pretty badly.
Regardless, the fact is that red states are very likely to gain seats after the 2020 census and things will remain highly competitive. For that, we can all be thankful.