The problem of illegal immigration exists today in large measure because the last two Presidential administrations have not enforced the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which provided for penalties against companies that hire undocumented workers. In 1999, under the Clinton Administration, the U.S. government collected a meager $3.69 million from 890 companies in fines. In 2004, under George Bush, the amount collected in fines from companies hiring undocumented workers was zero.
It is estimated that, in 2004, three million illegal immigrants entered the United States. In addition, the border with Mexico has never been properly secured, with only 9500 border agents trying to police an eight thousand mile border until 2005.
These factors have lead to an illegal immigrant population that has grown by at least 37% since the last United States census in the year 2000. This increase in illegal immigration will provide a political firestorm in Washington D.C. in the next few years since illegal immigrants are still included in the congressional apportionment calculation for 2010.
Congressional apportionment is the distribution of the 435 seats in the United States House Of Representatives among the 50 states. The calculation is done every decade and is based on the census of a state’s total population. The calculation includes citizens and non citizens including illegal aliens. The last calculation was done by Congress in the year 2000 and the next calculation of apportionment will be done in 2010. In addition this once in a decade population tally is used as the basis to distribute more than $200 billion in federal aid to the states each year.
When examining the last congressional apportionment in the year 2000, several interesting things become apparent. Seven million illegal aliens were counted in the 2000 United States census. In total the census counted 18.5 million non-citizens. These illegal aliens and non-citizens tend to live in several states in a concentrated fashion. Since apportionment considers non-citizens and illegal aliens in its formula, the result in 2000 was a redistribution of nine congressional seats. The result was that low immigration states that seem unaffected by immigration experienced a loss of their political influence. This loss of political influence occurred through the loss of congressional seats in the House of Representatives. The presence of non citizens in the census and apportionment calculations had some dramatic political consequences. Due to the fact that non-citizens were factored into the 2000 calculation, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi lost one seat each. The states of Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Utah each failed to gain a seat they should have had. The states with a high number of illegal aliens and non citizens gained the seats. California gained six seats and Florida, New York, and Texas gained one seat each.
Now consider the recent report by the University of Connecticut State Data Center . The report is an early projection on how the nation’s growing population of illegal immigrants would amplify the movement of Congressional seats to the South and West when seats in the House of Representatives are next divided up in 2010. The Connecticut report predicts that “Arizona, Texas and Florida will all hold additional seats in Congress after the next census, in part because of their illegal immigrant populations. California and New Jersey would keep their current amount of seats in the House under the current system. Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Montana and Ohio will each have one fewer seat than they would otherwise have because they have relatively few undocumented immigrants. New York, which would lose two seats under the current system, would lose only one if illegal immigrants were excluded.” Two of California’s projected fifty three House seats would be the result of its undocumented population.
The report makes this conclusion, “Illegal immigration is concentrating the power of voters in states such as California, Texas and Arizona, which have more seats in Congress per legal resident than many states where the number of illegal immigrants is much smaller”. Orlando Rodriguez, the demographer of the report adds: “If you look at it, if the undocumented population is included, then you get a real shift in seats from the Northeast to the South and the Southwest, and it’s a disproportionate shift because the people who are included in the count, not all of them vote”.
Future Presidential elections will also be impacted by the 2010 Congressional apportionment. Illegal immigration will not only redistribute seats in the House of Representatives, but will impact the Electoral College as well because it is based on the size of congressional delegations. This influence comes from a population of people who are not citizens and who are by law not allowed to vote. These people are residing in this country illegally.
However, they live here illegally because they are allowed to by local, state and federal governments. They are used in census figures by their state of residence which receive monetary benefits and more congressional power. They are exploited by the politician pandering for the Hispanic vote. They are exploited by their employers who pay them in many cases a low wage with poor working conditions. They are here because existing immigration laws were not enforced by the two previous administrations and by many state and local governments. They are here because the country has not secured its border in an age of terrorism.
Non-citizens and illegal aliens will be counted in the April 2010 United States census which will be the basis for congressional apportionment. The resulting movement of congressional seats will in effect dilute the principle that every citizen voter has an equal voice in this nation’s political life. The result of the 2010 congressional apportionment will be yet another unfortunate example of the politics of illegal immigration.