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Ensuring census inaccuracy

October 16, 2009

From a policy standpoint, I find this amendment to the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill absolutely mind-boggling.  In short, Vitter and Bennett don’t think that undocumented folks should be counted in the census.  And they think the best way to make that happen is to insert a question about immigration status/citizenship into the line-up.

I’ve got several problems with this.

  1. It’s unconstitutional.  We’re directed to count residents. Not just people we like.  Not just the rule-abiders.  Not just citizens.  Residents.
  2. It’s also not possible to somehow exclude undocumented folks and still count everyone else accurately.  The truth is that a high percentage of immigrant families are mixed-status.  Any line of questioning that poses any threat to undocumented folks will result in a overall undercount of all legal immigrants too.  Period.
  3. As it stands right now, society is still obligated to provide a number of services to all people, documented or not.  Children still go to school.  Emergency rooms still treat everyone.   So its pretty broken logic to think that federal money should be allocated by a formula that doesn’t include folks the states will still have to serve.

There are other reasons that this is bad policy.  But that’s my first draft.  Feel free to add.

And, you know, if your rep Senator is on the fence, feel free to give him/her a call too.

Jonas

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