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Another way Illinois could lose two congressional districts

Friday, Jan 26, 2018

* We’ve already talked about one way Illinois could lose two congressional seats after the next Census. The Tribune looks at another

Illinois could lose political clout and federal funding if immigrants afraid of deportation in the Trump era sit out the 2020 census, experts say.

Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau are weighing whether to ask households across the country about their citizenship status, a move experts say could have a chilling effect on participation among immigrants. The fear is that the data, including home addresses, could lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to the doors of those living in the country without documentation. And even for those on their way to becoming naturalized citizens, the controversial question may keep them from raising their hands and being counted, especially as the immigration debate has taken sharp turns and left them uneasy about their future here.

In Illinois alone, immigrants make up about 7 percent of the state’s population, ranging from those on their way to becoming naturalized citizens to others living here illegally, said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. Illinois’ falling population means it’s already on the cusp of losing one representative, but if immigrants decide they don’t want to be counted, that could cost the state a total of two seats, Frey said. […]

Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said if a question about citizenship made it onto the 2020 census, the bureau could face legal challenges on the grounds that it would lead to an inaccurate count and thus not fulfill its constitutional mandate. That’s one of the reasons why Saenz said the request could be more political than rooted in an actual need.

“I’m not sure the DOJ is serious,” Saenz said. “This could be just a dog whistle to the far right that this administration often seems to feel the need to cater to. It could be a political message.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    Illinois continues to make the dubious superlative of “worst state to live in..”. That’ll sure bring ‘em in.

  2. - Anon221 - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:19 am:

    This administration is going to go after immigrants every which way they can. This is just the latest in their bag ‘o tricks. Voter rolls is another-

  3. - Not a Billionaire - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:24 am:

    I would think this would hit a lot of other states harder than Illinois…like Texas for example

  4. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:27 am:

    Maybe the ILGA shows lad reduce its numbers as well. Reduce 1 senate seat 2 house. Save a million in 2 years. Give all remaining 1000 and 500 extra

  5. - cdog - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    Using a .pdf file of the US Constitution, the term “citizen” is mentioned 22 times.

    “7 percent of the state’s population, ranging from those on their way to becoming naturalized citizens to others living here illegally…”

    On what planet is there sound legal argument that the 7 percent should be counted? It sure isn’t here.

    Be nice to immigrants, but don’t conflate them with citizens until they have achieved that legal status.

  6. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:40 am:

    The Trump solution is simply to deputize all Census Takers as agents of ICE. Support this with a large expansion in the numbers of immigration judges with expedited procedures and the effect would be HUUGE!

  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:46 am:

    So don’t answer that question, if it’s on the form.

  8. - Hamlet's Ghost - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:49 am:

    From a Pew Research Center link:

    == Six states account for 59% of unauthorized immigrants: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. ==

  9. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    The Trump solution is simply to deputize all census takers as agents of ICE. He could fund the most complete census in history. Hire and train extra immigration judges to back up the census deputies. Undercounting will be the least of the worries.

  10. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:57 am:

    Is there a source for the 7% figure? has it more like 14% (more than double the national rate), which makes the problem worse.

    That said, Census data is pretty sacrosanct and likely could not be used by ICE. They have even held off the FBI who had a subpoena ( While that may protect the data, many will still not know or trust that the data will be safe.

  11. - Jolly Roger - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 10:58 am:

    Curious if they would ask legal status of every member of the household? There are people here illegally ( I know) that are living with citizen relatives, and have citizen children. In that household there would be only a few “ineligible” voters. I do think it would give a better idea of the problem.

  12. - PJ - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:00 am:

    =So don’t answer that question, if it’s on the form.=

    Not quite that simple for people living in mortal fear of deportation every day. They’ll just shut the door, which is the point.

  13. - Just Visiting - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:08 am:

    =The Trump solution is simply to deputize all census takers as agents of ICE.=

    Sigh… another leftist dog-whistle. Stoke fear much?

  14. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:11 am:

    DACA aside. If your not hear legally you shouldnt count.

  15. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    ===If your not hear legally you shouldnt count===

    You’re just lucky there’s no literacy test. lol

  16. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    ===Maybe the ILGA shows lad reduce its numbers as well===

    Far from it. We need to increase, not decrease, the numbers if we want better representation and to reduce money in politics. We have a representative for every 108k people, up from 63k in 1970. Your access to representation has been diluted nearly in half and that makes races far more expensive when the candidates are not well known in their large districts. It also makes it harder for special interests to “buy” votes when there are more representatives that they would have to lobby.

  17. - Anonymous - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    OK “blue dog” you got it…..

  18. - Jon Musgrave - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:15 am:

    This is much ado about nothing. The census used to ask about citizenship status, whether you were an alien, naturalized citizen or a citizen. The types of questions asked have varied over the years. It’s not a radical idea.

    As a former enumerator back when I was a grad students I can tell you that people who refused to be counted (which is illegal by the way) still get counted. The enumerator just goes next door or across the street and gets whatever information he can from a neighbor.

    People also have a tendency to not want to answer every question. You know what happens then, the question gets skipped. Next question. For purposes of allocating districts the only data that’s needed is the head count.

  19. - A guy - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:19 am:

    They don’t even have to fill out the form to be counted. The Census is a little more comprehensive than that. They make every attempt to count everyone voluntarily or not.

    What may happen is that another Hispanic Seat could be constitutionally required and possibly even gobble up one of the Constitutionally protected African American majority seats if trends continue.

  20. - Hamlet's Ghost - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:20 am:


    A compromise could be to count them as 3/5ths of a person.

    Don’t want ‘em voting but we need their labor and they should count for federal aid, congressional seats and electoral votes.


  21. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:22 am:

    Anony@11:15. I refuse to let the country I fought for become a lawless nation. If you dont like a law change it. Until then, we cant pick an choose which ones suit our needs. If that defines ‘literacy’, then 62,000,000 illiterates showed up in 2016.

  22. - PublicServant - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:29 am:

    I here you, BDD. /s

  23. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    Blue Dog:

    Thank you for your service. Unfortunately it appears that you had no idea what you were fighting for.

  24. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:41 am:

    There was another country once who singled out groups of people as the “enemy” and convinced everyone to blame that group of people for all of their woes.

  25. - Depressed in DuPage - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    Just the simple discussion of asking about citizenship will suppress the participation of those who are worried about deportation. The right has achieved its objective even if the citizenship question does not make it onto the census.

  26. - California Guy - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    I’m more of an open borders guy, but why count people that can’t vote anyways? Are the quantity of congressional districts also influenced by non-eligible legal residents (ie: minors, prisoners, etc.)?

  27. - cdog - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 11:54 am:

    Why would non-citizens be counted to represent citizens?

  28. - cdog - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 12:05 pm:

    The absence of constructive conservative viewpoints in this thread is suspicious.

    I know I have made two– 22 mentions of “citizen” in the US Constitution and why would non-citizens be included in calculating citizen representation.

    How can public discourse occur when someone puts their finger on the scale, similarly to what Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been accused of doing which has invited calls for an #InternetBillofRights?

  29. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    @California Guy

    Part of it is to collect data. It is not often that you can collect data about an entire population, so the more data they get the better information you have to make decisions about income inequality, occupations, housing types, etc. Knowing how many of the 320M+ living in the US are citizens vs. legal residents vs. undocumented would help with policy decisions, the question is how much and is this the appropriate tool to collect that data.

    To your second question, yes, voting districts must be equal in size by the full population, not just eligible voters. There are pros and cons to this, but that is what is currently required by the federal constitution.

  30. - muon - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 12:12 pm:

    I think it’s worth noting that this proposal wouldn’t be able to distinguish between legal and illegal non-citizens. Most non-citizens in Illinois are fully legal. It’s also worth noting that the Census already asks the citizenship question as part of the annual statistical survey and estimates between the full censuses.

    I won’t speak to the political motivation, but there is a real legal motivation why one might want the data. In the last couple of decades the federal courts have shifted to a standard based on the citizen voting age population to determine if districts comply with the Voting Rights Act. The current redistricting data doesn’t include citizenship, yet the courts will rely on it when a redistricting plan is challenged. That puts all parties in the dark as the maps are being drawn, waiting after the map is approved to find out the citizenship estimates that the court will use.

  31. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    …I wont speak for political motivation..
    No finer words.

    It’s one thing to act out of compassion. It’s another to act for political gain. Both major political parties, I believe, fall into the latter.

  32. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 1:07 pm:

    cdog, the word citizen isn’t mentioned here…

    Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

  33. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 1:23 pm:

    ==why would non-citizens be included in calculating citizen representation.==

    Representatives represent more than just citizens. And, while not at the federal level, you are aware that in some states legal, permanent residents (non-citizens) can even vote aren’t you?

    The better half in my family was a legal permanent resident for more than 2 decades. Are you suggesting that she should not be represented by our representatives?

  34. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 1:29 pm:

    ==legal, permanent residents (non-citizens) can even vote ==

    In state elections, that is.

  35. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 1:42 pm:

    When the Constitution was written, most citizens could not vote. There were property and literacy requirements in many states.

    As we shifted to universal suffrage, the counting of those ineligible to vote becomes more obvious. A purist could argue for only counting citizens, but I don’t think it is worth the effort to change.

    I am not an open borders guy. I lived and worked in a country with many poor people who would love to live here, but would be very hard for us to assimilate.

    I expect Illinois will continue to lose in relative population. One of my children lives out of state, the second is moving now, and the third will almost certainly by gone from Illinois by 2020.

  36. - Ron - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 2:54 pm:

    IL will lose congressional representation because it has been run as a banana republic since Ryan, maybe even Thomson.

  37. - Ron - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 2:55 pm:

    ^Edgar, not Ryan

  38. - A guy - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 3:28 pm:

    Thompson, not Thomson too, right? /s

  39. - walker - Friday, Jan 26, 18 @ 4:23 pm:

    See The Federalist #58. The original intent of the census for Congressional representation, was to be of “inhabitants,” not citizens or voters.
    Note also the Illinois Constitution of 1818 specifically counted French inhabitants, who were then technically “illegal immigrants” by Federal law.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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