The census: Designed to scare off Hispanics?
It’s now clear that “the Trump administration lied” about its reasons for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, saidThe New York Times in an editorial. Among a cache of 75,000 files found in the home of deceased Republican consultant Thomas Hofeller was a 2015 study in which the so-called Michelangelo of Gerrymandering concluded that the question “would clearly be a disadvantage to Democrats” and a boon to “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” Studies have shown adding the question could frighten away both undocumented immigrants and citizens with undocumented relatives from filling out the census, causing an undercount of 6 million Hispanics. Additional files reveal Hofeller masterminded using the Voting Rights Act as a justification for including the question, and even wrote part of the Justice Department’s proposal to add the question to the census. When the Supreme Court soon rules on whether the census question was legally added, will it consider why it was added—to discourage Hispanics from participating?
If the citizenship question is allowed, said Aaron Blake in The Washington Post, it could “cement the GOP’s already very strong advantage when it comes to the composition of the districts we use to elect our representatives.” Congressional representation maps are now based on the total number of people in an area—including undocumented immigrants. Asking about citizenship would give Republican-controlled states the data they need to begin drawing districts based on voting-age citizens only, rather than total population. The question is part of a Republican scheme to “rig elections for a decade,” said Alex Shephard in NewRepublic.com. The GOP knows the demographic composition of the U.S. electorate will “outpace their traditional white constituencies.” Rather than crafting policies to attract nonwhites, they’re trying to disenfranchise them.
Democrats know they have a weak legal case on the citizenship question, said David Catron in Spectator.org, which is why they’re making such a big deal out of Hofeller’s study. Democrats are hoping to make Chief Justice John Roberts “worry about appearances” and side with the court’s liberals. But by any reasonable standard, it’s wrong to allow noncitizens to skew the number of congressional seats states are awarded in Congress. Counting noncitizens is an affront to the principle of “one person, one vote.” Let’s hope “the chief justice can take the pressure this time.”