Census Controversies and the Illegal Immigration Debate
Besides, the argument that immigrants won't participate in the census count is just a convenient tool for those who oppose raids anyway and who are looking for any excuse to stop them. This latest controversy is just a smokescreen that they hope will help them do that. The immigration raids should continue. So should the census. Both serve important purposes don't interfere with the other.
But the attempt by Sens. Vitter and Bennett to bar illegal immigrants from the census is also out of line. And it also hides a secret agenda. This is partisan politics. What concerns Republicans is that, since the census is used to allocate congressional seats, Democrats could gain seats if illegal immigrants are included.
They assume most illegal immigrants live in states controlled by Democrats. But this is also about inter-state rivalry. Neither Louisiana nor Utah have significant immigrant populations. The big winners in population growth caused by immigration are states like Texas, Arizona, and California. Don't expect senators -- Republican or Democrat -- from those states to support the Vitter-Bennett amendment. States that have taken in more than their share of illegal immigrants should get what they’re due in federal resources and congressional representation. For that to happen, illegal immigrants have to be counted in the census.
Finally, the proposed census boycott by Latinos angry over Obama’s inattention to the immigration issue is ludicrous. Being angry is no excuse for being self-destructive. Boycotting the census is a horrible idea that would only further disenfranchise the Latino community by, among other things, shortchanging it in the redistricting process that will take place in state legislatures following the survey. If these Latino groups really want to help the people they claim to represent, they have to understand that the first step to gaining power and respect is to stand up and be counted. That means forgetting all this talk about boycotting the census and instead finding ways to encourage Latinos to participate.
What’s behind all these controversies over the census? The short answer: numbers. The census is all about numbers. And that’s the same thing the immigration debate is about. It’s not law and order, not economics, and not secure borders. It’s all about numbers.
Today, the U.S. population is 15 percent Latino. Census projections estimate that this figure will grow to 25 percent by 2030 and 30 percent by 2050. As the country becomes more Latino, there is a naturally a lot of anxiety over what that means, what’s going to change, who’s coming in, who’s being displaced, etc. And for some people, the best way to deal with a rapidly changing reality is to ignore it by deliberately overlooking whole groups of people and pretending that nothing has changed.