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House Republicans pass bill to stop census from counting non-citizens – Rhode Island Current

WASHINGTON — Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to add a citizenship question to the census and exclude noncitizens from the official count when determining the population to be represented in the census. Congress and electoral votes.

The legislation, which passed 206-202, is part of a trend of House GOP bills related to immigration in the run-up to the November election. Republicans and their presumptive presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump, have focused their campaigns on immigration.

The Trump administration tried to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but the Supreme Court blocked it.

“We should not reward states and cities that violate federal immigration laws and maintain sanctuary policies with increased representation in Congress,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement after the adoption of the bill. “Common sense dictates that only American citizens should be taken into account in the electoral distribution. »

The bill, HR 7109, sponsored by North Carolina Republican Rep. Chuck Edwards, would impact the 2030 census and beyond if signed into law.

The census, which takes place every 10 years, helps determine Congressional seats in the House and can determine political power.

Since the first census in 1790, citizens and noncitizens have been included in the official population count of the United States due to the 14th Amendment’s requirement to include “the whole number of persons in each State” .

Edwards argued during debate on the bill that the Constitution did not specify that noncitizens should be counted in the census.

He argued that the word “persons,” in the 14th Amendment, “carries no definition.”

It is unlikely to pass the Senate, which Democrats control by a slim margin, and the White House has already issued a statement opposing the bill.

The White House said the bill would “prevent the Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau from exercising its constitutional responsibility to count the number of people in the United States in the decennial census” and “make it more difficult to obtain precise data”.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that the census remains as accurate as possible and free from political interference, and to upholding the long-standing principle of equal representation enshrined in our Constitution, our census statutes, and our tradition historic,” the White House said. .

Numbers completed in Democratic areas, GOP says

During debate in the House, Republicans argued that areas with high immigrant populations deprive American citizens of representation in Congress and benefit states run by Democrats.

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” said Republican Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana. “It’s 100% about accumulating votes. »

Tennessee Republican Rep. Tim Burchett said states with more noncitizens “will get more congressional districts and more electoral votes.” He said those votes would also benefit Democrats and “skew things in their favor.”

Democrats warn of Hispanic undercount

Democrats argued that the bill would not only violate the Constitution, but also harm immigrant communities by undercounting and could threaten the accuracy of the census.

“The census is essential to democracy,” said Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin. “This bill would destroy the accuracy of the census, which may have something to do with its true motivations. »

Raskin added that the bill would not only exclude all non-citizens, including permanent residents with green cards “who are on the path to citizenship.”

Raskin said the Republican Party’s decision to add a citizenship question for the 2020 census led to a chilling effect and an undercount of communities of color, particularly Hispanics.

Six states — Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas — had fewer people in the 2020 census than were estimated to live there.

Nationally, there was a record undercount of Hispanics in the 2020 census, about 3 million, according to the Pew Research Center.

According to Pew, eight states – Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah – had overcounts.

The chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán of California, said the bill would have a chilling effect on census accuracy and harm immigrant communities.

“This is a bill that threatens the fair and equal representation of immigrant communities,” she said.

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