NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Census Count Skews House-Apportionment

October 24, 2003

Illegal immigrants can't vote or contribute to campaigns, but they wield considerable yet little-noticed political clout by shifting congressional seats to California at the expense of other states, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington organization that favors tougher immigration rules.

The report argues that because the census counts all residents, including people here illegally, the congressional apportionment process is skewed in favor of states with the most illegal immigrants. That also tilts power in presidential elections, since the Electoral College is based largely on House seats. Counting all noncitizens, legal and illegal, skews the figures even further, they say.

  • Based on federal immigration estimates, the group figures that 6.6 million illegal aliens were counted in the 2000 census.
  • If they hadn't been, California would have three fewer seats in the House, and North Carolina would have one less.
  • North Carolina's small illegal immigrant population was just enough to put it over the cusp of gaining a seat.

Those seats came at the expense of Indiana, Michigan and Mississippi, which each lost a seat, and Montana, which would have gained a seat had illegal aliens not been counted, the report says.

The inclusion of all noncitizens in the census, including people here legally, gave the four most immigrant-heavy states nine seats they otherwise wouldn't have gotten -- six for California and one each for Florida, New York and Texas. North Carolina would just barely miss gaining a seat under this scenario.

Low-immigration states that might seem unaffected by immigration are in fact experiencing a significant erosion of their political influence, the report says.

Source: Marjorie Valbrun, "Illegal Aliens Help States Gain Clout: Study Claims Census Count Skews Apportionment Process, Especially for California," Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB106685994050850500,00.html


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