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Immigration and Representation

Friday, December 12th, 2014

amnesty_no_compromiseIn the Weekly Standard, Program director Gary Schmitt and Rebecca Burgess write that in the debate over President Obama’s grant of amnesty to four or five million illegal immigrants, and concerns about the separation of powers, a vital principle of representative government has gone unremarked upon:

Knitted to the issue is the question of the apportionment of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives and the distribution of Electoral College votes among the states, which are tied to the census count conducted every 10 years. Under current directives, that count tallies up not only citizens and legal resident aliens, but also those here illegally. The latters’ inclusion appears to be mandated by the language of the 14th Amendment which reads: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state.”

This reading of the 14thAmendment creates a set of incentives for states to tolerate, if not actually invite, more illegal immigration within their boundaries. Reapportionment is a zero-sum game. With the total number of House members set by law at 435, states stand to lose a representative (or two) as other states win additional members. More bodies equals more representatives, and more votes when it comes to selecting a president.

But has the inclusion of illegal immigrants actually affected any state’s number of representatives?

Read the whole thing to find out.

AEI