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House GOP Passes Bill Adding U.S. Citizenship Question to Census

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The Republican-controlled House narrowly passed a measure to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census, which is taken every 10 years to measure the population and apportion congressional districts.

The Equal Representation Act cleared the chamber in a party-line 206–202 vote. In a 2019 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question, The Hill reported.

“The measure would direct the Census Bureau to add a question to the 10-year survey asking for the respondent’s citizenship status and require that the U.S. only consider citizens when determining the number of congressional seats each state receives,” the outlet reported.

Republicans could reduce the impact of high-population, liberal-leaning states like California by targeting apportionment.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said in a statement after the vote, “We should not reward states and cities that violate federal immigration laws and maintain sanctuary policies with increased Congressional representation. Common sense dictates that only American citizens should be counted for electoral apportionment, and the Equal Representation Act ensures that.”

However, including this question has raised concerns that it could deter participation in the Census, which, according to the Constitution, mandates the counting of “the whole number of free persons.”

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The government and non-profit organizations have spent years educating non-citizens about participating in the Census. They emphasize that taking part in the census will not result in immigration enforcement.

Not surprisingly, Democrats railed against the legislation as an attack on immigrant communities.

“A citizen’s only census, as this legislation intends, is reckless, cynical, and frankly, illegal,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) said during a House floor speech on Wednesday. “It is not the Census Bureau’s job to keep track of immigration status.”

The Hill noted that, in a statement of policy issued this week, the Biden administration said it “strongly opposes” the measure “which would preclude the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau from performing its constitutionally mandated responsibility to count the number of persons in the United States in the decennial census.”

The House is advancing the idea in an effort to revive a plan that the Trump administration had originally proposed but that the Supreme Court later rejected.

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made a last-minute decision to add the question to the 2020 Census, disregarding the recommendations of Census Bureau experts and aligning with a key priority of then-President Trump by approving it.

“But the Trump administration failed to justify the move amid legal challenges, ultimately losing at the high court as Chief Justice John Roberts determined the government gave a ‘contrived’ answer about its motivations for adding the question,” The Hill noted.

In October, an analysis of 2020 Census Bureau data produced better news for former President Donald Trump than for President Joe Biden, should the two face off against each other again next year, as seems likely.

The Electoral College map is looking better for Republicans, generally, as “red states such as Florida and Texas picked up Electoral College votes, while blue states such as California, New York, and Illinois lost them,” The Western Journal reported.

According to Ballotpedia, 13 states lost and gained electoral votes following the last census. Texas, for instance, gained an additional two congressional districts/electoral college votes. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each picked up one as well; three of those—Florida, Montana, and North Carolina—trend red or are genuinely red.

At the same time, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia each lost one. Of those, California, Illinois, Michigan, and New York are blue or trend blue, while Pennsylvania is leaning that way. Ohio and West Virginia are reliably red.

“Biden won the 2020 race 306-232 in the Electoral College. However, with the new electoral vote breakdown in place, Biden’s win in 2020 would have dipped slightly to 303-235, according to the site 270 to Win,” the Western Journal noted.

Some have speculated that Biden’s open-border policies, which have flooded the country with illegal immigrants, are being done to offset population losses in blue states so they don’t lose any more congressional seats.

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