The Louisiana GOP suddenly discovered that the Census always counts people living in the United States, not just residents of the United States, and that DHS, USCIS, and local law enforcement don’t accompany Census takers. And they’re outraged! The Associated Press per The Town Talk (bold mine):

The chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party says the GOP is considering legal action to oppose federal plans to count illegal immigrants in the 2010 census.

GOP Chairman Roger Villere said if illegal immigrants are counted, Louisiana would lose one of its seven congressional seats.

U.S. census information is used to determine the level of federal aid states get for numerous programs. The census numbers are also used for redrawing election districts to reflect population shifts. Some analysts have said including non-citizens have inflated the count in other states, such as California and Texas.

Villere said options include working through Congress and the Obama administration to change census plans and going to court.

Does anyone follow Villere’s logic here? Because, to me, there is one gigantic and and blatantly obvious logical flaw in suggesting that the more people we count in the Census, the more likely it is that we will lose a Congressional seat.

But then again, maybe Villere is banking on the counter-attack: Because if the Louisiana Democrats were to call overt attention to his obvious logical flaw, he could (and probably would) retort, “They support counting illegal immigrants, because they believe it increases the chances of keeping a majority-Democratic Congressional district.”

Villere’s earning some media by grandstanding on immigration and hoping his adversaries will take the bait.

It doesn’t matter that he’s illogical and disingenuous.

Villere? What is that, French!?

13 thoughts

  1. It’s all about New Orleans. New Orleans hispanic population has grown since Katrina. The GOP feels those hispanics are illegal immigrants. If every resident of New Orleans is counted, then by time the census is counted, New Orleans is likely to have a population of about 375,000 or so. That would not only help assure that there will still be a majority Democratic district, that would help protect New Orleans’ clout in the state legislature (thus, also, Democratic clout in the state legislature). The state GOP loathes that possibility. I know many GOPers from outside New Orleans who were quite tickled about Katrina’s decimation of New Orleans’ population. They view New Orleans in the same way that national GOPers view, say, San Francisco. They also believe (and this is code here) that “social pathology” in New Orleans is the reason the state has such poor rankings in quality of life. But CENLA’s violent crime rate is actually higher than NOLA’s, Rapides Parish’s poverty rate is about the same as NOLA’s, and so on, but NOLA causes all the state’s problems to the GOP. And as a parish that went 79% for Obama, yes, NOLA causes all the state’s problems for the GOP.

    1. Great analysis, Robert.

      It’s interesting that the LA GOP is attempting to frame the issue of immigration in the context of the Census count, particularly when one considers the possibility that including illegal immigrants in New Orleans could actually protect a seat they (ostensibly) believe is in jeopardy. This, to me, underscores their disingenuousness.

  2. Does it matter if illegals are counted? In Louisiana I would gather to say yes.

    We stand to lose a seat BECAUSE of lost population, not because of gained population. I am certainly confused by whoever’s logic is that by inflating the numbers we would lose a seat. The ONLY way you lose a seat is by decreased population. There has been much speculation about losing a seat since Katrina and how district lines would need to be redrawn to achieve a minority district in the southern part of our State.

    Now, back to illegals. Since our government dollars pay for healthcare whenever illegals walk into a hospital to have a baby, provide WIC and other social services to those children born in the US to illegal parents, provide US employers a break on employment taxes because they hire illegals and pay them cash under the table, and provide 3 cots and hot meals plus transportation back to their homeland when they are caught in our country, we might as well count them. This way when the proper formulas are applied for the distribution of federal dollars each State is given its proper amount to take care of them.

    As for your comment on whether or not Villere was French does it really matter? Unless someone is 100% Native American, which includes Alaska Eskimo and Hawaiians, we were all at one time an illegal immigrant and I believe we were all counted through our ancestors in the first Census. I don’t know if the real Americans were counted at that time however, I would have to go back and look at a census record from that period.

  3. Rhonda,

    Someone explained the “logic,” if you can even call it that, to me today. Basically, the idea is that if California and Texas are ALSO allowed to count illegal immigrants, their populations would be inflated, which, therefore, would increase the chances of Louisiana losing a seat.

    Of course, most people believe we’re going to lose a seat regardless, and this really does look like a purely political move.

    Anyway, with respect to Mr. Villere, it was a joke. Like many people in Louisiana, I’m also of French ancestry. For crying out loud, my name is Lamar, a derivation of La Mer (or the sea) in French, retrofitted as a male name.

    Either way, you’re right: It doesn’t matter.

    On a side note, I have to say it was amusing to see that Greg Aymond, on his blog, took my question literally and felt compelled to post an entire entry on Villere being French and me being a snarky, pompous know-it-all who uses big words like “disingenuous” and “illogical.”

  4. There are several other states that can be added to the list if people are worried about inflated populations because of the counting of illegal immigrants.

    I have read articles recently regarding special exceptions regarding the counts on the Gulf Coast due to displaced residents – that would include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    1. “There are several other states that can be added to the list if people are worried about inflated populations because of the counting of illegal immigrants.”

      Some may argue that Louisiana should be considered one of those states.

  5. Two comments:

    1) It’s perfectly logical that Louisiana will likely lose a seat due to the counting of noncitizens in the U.S. census. As you now acknowledge, because of the massive gains due to illegal immigration in Texas and California, those states will gain more seats at the expense of other states, like Louisiana.

    2) You’re correct that this is a political stunt. This is so because the Constitution itself requires the counting of all “free persons” in for apprortionment in the census, not just citizens, and nobody is talking about amending the Constitution.

    This arrangement at least partially has its roots in political wrangling during the Constitutional Convention, the type of stuff that produced the infamous three-fifths compromise. I’m not all that familiar with all of the reasons behind it, but I would argue that a better system would only count citizens (or voters) for the purposes of Congressional apportionment. Again, though, that’s just not going to happen.

    In any event, illegal immigrants tend to have a low response rate on census forms anyway.

    1. #2 makes #1 illogical.

      If this is a Constitutional issue, which I also believe it to be, then you would also have to categorically reject previous Census counts, which form the baselines for federal and state representation and apportionment.

      That said, I would argue that an accurate count of people, including those not registered to vote (and those under 18), creates a more accurate depiction of the country and its needs.

      And, in my opinion, the Census is actually the best way of approximating our country’s illegal immigrant population, the very problem that Louisiana Republicans ostensibly hope to solve.

      We need immigration reform, no doubt about it. But we need it to be sensible. Any attempt to use the Census to intimidate immigrants and minorities into not responding, particularly considering the Constitutional imperative that ALL people are counted, should be called out for what it truly is: A crass political stunt designed by a party fearful of a democracy that most accurately reflects the people it serves.

      As Rhonda points out, unless you are 100% Native American, then you also are a descendant of immigrants, some of whom may have been forced into this country because of slavery or poverty or discrimination and some of whom may have been welcomed here.

      Again, we need immigration reform. But we don’t need to be rushed into some sort of xenophobic frenzy over the idea of the Census Bureau actually conducting the job with which they are Constitutionally-mandated to perform.

      1. How does it make it illogcal? Due to increased illegal immigration in states like Texas and California, Louisiana will lose a seat versus what it had before. Furthermore, each census requires an actual enumeration. It’s a legitimate gripe. It seems kind of odd to lose representation in Washington due to the presence of noncitizens in a jurisdiction. Now, there’s nothing really to be done about it given that it’s a Constitutional issue, but I can understand the complaint and it isn’t an illogical one.

        It’s one thing to count all persons for the sake of determining public services (or simply use statistical estimates), but it’s another to count noncitiziens for the purposes of apportionment. The complaint is about the latter, not necessarily the former. I don’t see any reason why the citizens in, say, Louisiana, should have their electoral power reduced by noncitizens in southern California. You’re basically giving each voter in California a greater say in how the U.S. is governed simply because of their proximity to the border. Again, this isn’t nutty anti-democracy stuff; it’s a valid complaint.

        As for being descended from immigrants, that’s really true for everyone. It just depends on when. American Indians most likely migrated to this continent (across the former land bridge that is now the Bering Strait) they just did it much, much longer ago. And in any case, at some point a country needs to regulate its borders. While I support legal immigration, our porous southern border is a major problem. The fact that it is causing distortions in Congressional apportionment is a symptom of that.

  6. BTW — I know a lot of the anger over this comes from the fact that the Census Bureau is making a special effort to count all illegal immigrants for 2010 — the article is confusing in that it makes it sound like the counting of noncitizens is a new thing, when the only innovation in this census is greater outreach. Of course, the Census Bureau is supposed to try to make an accurate count, but on the other hand they aren’t actually required to make any kind of special outreach effort, either.

    Also, I know in past years there has been the suggestion among some Democrats that we ought to use statistical sampling in populations with low response rates, which runs contrary to the “actual enumeration” required by the Constitution. However, the Census Bureau has ruled that out for the 2010 census.

  7. “Due to increased illegal immigration in states like Texas and California, Louisiana will lose a seat versus what it had before.”

    Owen, aside from what has been asserted by the Louisiana Republican Party, what objective statistical analysis on the Census can you point to that also arrives at this conclusion?

    I can’t seem to find any.

    On the contrary, I find evidence that illegal immigrants are now bypassing Texas and California in large numbers:

    The number of immigrants living in American households rose 16 percent over the last five years, fueled largely by recent arrivals from Mexico, according to fresh data released by the Census Bureau.

    And increasingly, immigrants are bypassing the traditional gateway states like California and New York and settling directly in parts of the country that until recently saw little immigrant activity — regions like the Upper Midwest, New England and the Rocky Mountain States.

    To be sure, this was in 2006, but from what I gather, the trend is still the same.

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