While Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) fight to include an amendment in the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that would require the US Census Bureau to add a question about immigration status to its 2010 survey, hate group spokesperson Phil Kent has added his voice to the mix. Kent, a spokesperson for Americans for Immigration Control (AIC) and board member of its 501(c)(4) arm, was featured in an op-ed debate on the census in the Atlanta Journal Constitution today.
Kent’s general argument echoes that of Vitter, Bennett, and others. In their view, counting undocumented immigrants in the US Census will hurt predominantly Republican states because blue states with large populations of “illegal aliens” will steal their states’ representatives:
That principle [Wesberry v. Sanders] is being shamelessly violated in next year’s census. The Democrat-controlled Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibility by giving a wink and a nod to the influx of illegal immigrants “concentrating the power” of voters in California, Texas and a few other states where Democrats seek demographic political advantage over Republicans.
The Constitution requires that representation be determined by an indiscriminate population count. That means that those who suggest that we shouldn’t count undocumented immigrants are essentially saying that there’s something wrong with the Constitution and that it should be changed. In the case that Kent cites, Wesberry v. Sanders, the Supreme Court decided that congressional districts have to be approximately equal in population. The majority decision does not draw a distinction between citizens and noncitizens, rather it reemphasizes the Constitution’s original intent of determining the allocation of Congressmen “solely by the number of the State’s inhabitants [emphasis added].”
In her counter op-ed, Afton Branche of the Drum Major Institute (DMI) explains that accurate census data is necessary in order to efficiently distribute federal funding and Community Development Block Grants that benefit all residents. DMI warns that the non-participation of undocumented immigrants could lead to inaccurate demographic information and result in costly mistakes in infrastructure, education, and healthcare planning.
Not only is Kent misguided, he misleads. Kent argues that if “liberal Democrat-dominated California” includes its “6 million illegal aliens,” it will gain a “whopping 57 House members in a newly reapportioned Congress.” However, earlier this year, the Pew Hispanic Research Center pointed out that California is home to about 2.7 million undocumented immigrants, a 22% drop since 1990. The Public Policy Institute of California reports that many immigrants are leaving California, which could cost the state a House seat after the 2010 census is completed. Meanwhile, Kent’s homestate of Georgia has experienced an immigration influx and been identified as a “new immigrant destination.” According to some reports, Georgia is expected to gain a House seat.
Kent’s boss, AIC director John Vinson, claims that America is plagued by “europhobia” — racism that “targets Americans of European descent” and has called for the “secession of the former Confederate states in order to protect the racial purity and economic viability of the white middle class.” His organization cites safeguarding the “the racial and cultural composition of the United States” as one of its primary goals. Phil Kent served in as a press secretary and public affairs advisor to Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC).