I got this article this past weekend from my friend Krishna who showed me a piece by John S. Baker and Elliott Stonecipher from the Wall Street Journal whoraised an interesting question regarding the upcoming census which occurs at the turn of every decade in their opinion piece titled “Our Unconstitutional Census“.
A census, for those of you who are unaware, not only counts the number of people in this country but also determines the allotment of House members and in turn Electoral College votes that each state gets for the next 10 years. Although such a survey is not the most accurate, it is probably still the best way to determine in which areas of the country the population has shifted or increased and deserve their appropriate representation.
All of this seems perfectly fine and this is a process that has been done in this country since the 1700’s. So what’s the big commotion this time?
It turns out that the past few census calculations (since the 1970 one) has not asked a person’s legal status in the country. That right there raises serious questions about who should and should not be included. Should a person who might not be paying taxes and definitely not exercising their civil duty in voting deserve to be included in a measure of how the representation of our congressman and women are redistributed?
It has been the Democrats who have held the majority in the Congress at the turn of each decade (except for 1999 when Republicans held both Senate and House of Representatives), and they technically do “ask” for certain things to be included and not included in the short/long forms. Democrats usually known for their softer stance towards the Latino community but that was not a stance changed by the Republicans when they last had a chance 10 years ago.
By 1980 there were two census forms. The shorter form went to every person physically present in the country and was used to establish congressional apportionment. It had no question pertaining to an individual’s citizenship or legal status as a resident. The longer form gathered various kinds of socioeconomic information including citizenship status, but it went only to a sample of U.S. households. That pattern was repeated for the 1990 and 2000 censuses.
According to that segment from the article, a person’s legal status hasn’t been in question for a census since the 1970 one. Wall Street Journal in its Latino-hating bias just casually drops that line and continues going on with its 2010 census hating bash.
Personally, I don’t think a person who is not of legal status should be included in determining the proportioning of the representatives. However, such a statement or belief begs the question that should any person be counted that is a citizen of the country? How do you determine who is a productive member of society? Is it one who has the paper works to show for it? Is it one that might be doing the job at the bottom of the food chain to keep the foundation of the economy rolling?
This issue is more complicated than a simple yes or no but I believe until a better resolution can be made on how to accurately represent the illegal residents in this country, those bordering or harboring a vast number of the aliens do not deserve to be represented whether it is in the bright blue state of California or the burning red of Texas – neither party should benefit from such an act and the correction should be made to go back to the way it was pre-1970 census.