The Humble Libertarian

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Should Census Data Include Illegal Immigrants?

Discussion Point - 10/18/09: Should the U.S. Census Bureau allow illegal immigrants to participate in its census?

A recent Tennessean article by Phil Valentine addresses the controversy:

There's a move to keep illegal immigrants from participating in the census. I know, most of you didn't even know they were allowed to participate, but currently there's no law prohibiting an illegal immigrants [sic] from filling out a census form and sending it in.

Mr. Valentine outlines some of the important issues at stake. Some people for instance, charge that not allowing illegal immigrants to participate is racist. Valentine contends that allowing them to participate warps our political process because census data is used to apportion congressional districts and illegals are not citizens.

When the U.S. Constitution was written, major slave-holding states insisted that slaves be included in district apportionment though they weren't citizens, while states with fewer or no slaves objected, leading eventually to the "3/5s" compromise, counting each slave as 3/5s of a person for the purposes of congressional apportionment.

Should states with more illegal immigrants have more of a voice in Congress? Would the effect be liberalization of immigration law, or interestingly- stricter immigration laws?

Another question is simply how much data we want to have. Should the U.S. deliberately try to collect less demographic data on people who are living here just because they are not citizens? Wouldn't we want to have as much information as possible to understand as accurately as possible, the demographic makeup of our country?



  1. The purpose of the Census is to determine proper representation. Therefore, we should only collect info on the number of legal citizens and residents. This info should be nothing more than the number of inhabitants and one's eligibility for voting. Not only should illegal residents not fill out census data, legal residents are already being asked to fill out data the government has no business collecting.

    We are not central planners, nor should we be. Therefore, we should stop trying to build up these intrusive data sets that government is requesting.

  2. Two words: HELL NO!

    Letting illegals vote not only subverts the Constitution, but is a slap in the face of those who have gone through the process legally in order to make their voices be heard.

    Do you think Mexico would let us vote in their elections? I think not.

  3. I definitely don't think non-citizens should vote in our elections! That's not even at issue here. My goodness, I hope no one out there actually thinks that would make sense!

  4. For those unfamiliar with the census, it is required per Article 1 Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The constitution states that it will be done, "in such Manner as they [congress] shall by Law direct."
    It's a shame we even have illegal immigrants, doesn't this tell you that the government's low immigration quota and unreliable enforcement simply doesn't work? I would like to see us increase the immigration quota that way we can keep track of these people and get them to pay taxes.

    But, for now, yes we should have the fill out census forms, because it may be the only way to gauge how many illegals there are (the number varies depending on who you ask)

  5. AJ- I agree that the US government cannot possibly know the correct quantity of immigration (just as it cannot know the correct quantity or price of any good, service, or factor of production).

    As such, you are correct that the quota should be increased (or abolished if I had my way), while we should at the same time, maintain vigilant watch over and security of our borders.

    But if we allow illegals to fill out census forms, they count towards more apportionment for states with more illegals. Is that really okay?

    A compromise would be to have them fill out census forms to gather information, but specifically count only citizens for congressional apportionment, but there's still the problem that Daryl poses: that it's none of government's business to track any other information than what's needed to correctly apportion representatives.

    What would you say to him?

  6. I would tell Daryl that the Census asking information is most certainly in their constitutional responsibility. It provides local governments information about income, provides pundits with information such as marriage the information is so important that the census avoids reporting individual data, providing statistics. The other infornation is vital and is supposed provide non-partisan information. (I'm not sure about the white house monitoring it so closely, could be the media sensationalzing)

    I would argue that the census is a check on the government. Should we gather information from illegals, yes. Should they count for redistricting purposes? Even prisoners are counted for that, but keep in mind that represntatives represent all the people illegal, prisoner or not.

  7. I don't think they should be counted. They shouldn't even be in this Country. It's just one thing after another with these illegal aliens. Illegal aliens are destroying this Country, and if one can't see that, they must have very poor eye sight.

    Illegal aliens have made America the dumping ground for all their illegal alien children, then we have to school them and give them free medical care.

    I for one, am sick and tired of these illegal aliens snubbing their nose at our immigration laws and the many other laws of this Country. If our Federal Government can not ENFORCE our immigration laws, and get these illegal aliens out of this Country, then let the States do it! One way or another, an end has to come to this illegal immigration, and not with AMNESTY! Amnesty will only encourage more illegal aliens to invade our Country and reward those who broke our laws and raped the American taxpayer in many ways...depressing our wages, taking our jobs, overwhelming our schools with their ILLEGAL ALIEN children, driving without a license or car insurance, all the crime from stolen identities to rape, drugs and everything else.

    It's time for ZERO TOLERENCE with these illegal aliens. It's time for them get out of this Country and back in their own Country where they belong. When we get rid of the illegal aliens, we will get rid of all the problems that go with them. THAT IS A FACT!

  8. I can't agree with all of that. Immigration to this country is an overwhelmingly positive thing. I definitely agree that non-citizens shouldn't count towards Congressional apportionment, but by and large I don't think that illegal immigrants are a threat to Americans.


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