Salvo 03.08.2021 7 minutes

Out of His Census

Pencil Eraser Erasing Drawn Figures

Biden’s betrayal of citizenship sabotages our republican form of government.

Editors’ Note

This article will be part of a longer forthcoming series regarding President Biden’s harmful Executive Orders.

President Joe Biden’s flurry of initial actions, on issues from immigration and race to environmentalism and regulatory policy, favor the ruling class, Woke progressives, and non-citizens. They punish the tens of millions of forgotten Americans of every color and creed who are most deeply impacted by their consequences. The longtime Swamp-dweller’s first days in office can best be summarized as: “unity and healing for me, but not for thee.”

One overlooked but significant executive order that demonstrates the administration’s contempt for you, and the principles you hold dear, concerns the census. It suggests that the president not only cares little for sovereignty, and the rule of law, but believes in fragrantly violating such principles, privileging noncitizens—including illegal aliens—and providing them representation to which they are not entitled.

The decennial census count is critically important because it is used for apportioning House seats, redistricting, and allocating hundreds of billions of federal dollars each year. It may strike readers as odd, but historically, the enumeration has included noncitizens, including illegal aliens. Therefore, areas with greater numbers of inhabitants—regardless of their legal status—have garnered greater political power in the way of representation and government largesse. Some American citizens see the weight of their votes augmented, while others see it reduced because of the actions of noncitizens, including illegal aliens—and because of a part-feckless and part-cynical political class that has allowed this policy to persist.

According to a December 2019 study by the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports limited immigration, the 2020 census will show that the “presence of all immigrants (naturalized citizens, legal residents, and illegal aliens) and their U.S.-born minor children is responsible for a shift of 26 House seats.” All but two of those seats come from states President Trump carried in 2016.

Counting noncitizens in the census erodes sovereignty and undermines law. It definitionally creates foreign influence over our political system. All else being equal, for the leftists who reside in and represent the urban areas where illegal aliens tend to migrate in large numbers, counting such people in the census incentivizes support of still more illegal immigration, and the protection of illegal immigrants through sanctuary city policies.

A Constitutional Census

Counting noncitizens in the census is as legally dubious as it is politically outrageous. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the “whole number of persons in each state” who are enfranchised by the Constitution can only logically refer to legal American citizens. As Dr. John C. Eastman points out, the “whole number of persons in each state” referred to in the Constitution’s census clause (Article I, Section 2) pertains to “persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” “We the people of the United States” are not “any foreign nationals who happen to be in the United States when a census is taken.”

Consequently, President Donald Trump sought to reverse this policy. First, he attempted to reinstate a question on the census that would have asked of participants whether they were U.S. citizens. The query did not ask illegal aliens to self-incriminate. Noncitizens simply checked a box indicating they were not citizens.

But this was a bridge too far for Trump’s enemies, who spuriously claimed among other things that reinstating the question would chill noncitizen respondents fearful of being targeted, leading to what leftists deemed an “unconstitutional undercount.” Activists litigated the decision up to the Supreme Court. In an abomination of a ruling, the Court affirmed the policy’s legality, but torpedoed it on putatively procedural but arguably anti-Trump grounds.

As Justice Clarence Thomas noted in a partially concurring, partially dissenting opinion, the Justices applied an “administration-specific standard” invalidating, “[f]or the first time ever by an agency action”—the Department of Commerce’s move to reinstate the question on the census, which it administers—“solely because it questions the sincerity of the agency’s otherwise adequate rationale.”

The president shifted gears. He instructed relevant agencies to obtain data to count citizens, noncitizens, and illegal aliens, and ultimately directed the executive branch to exclude the illegal alien population from the apportionment base. Democrats fought President Trump tooth-and-nail at every step. Now, with a pen stroke, President Biden has revoked such policies in toto.

The Biden Betrayal

Biden’s executive order begins as follows:

We have long guaranteed all of the Nation’s inhabitants representation in the House of Representatives. This tradition is foundational to our representative democracy, for our elected representatives have a responsibility to represent the interests of all people residing in the United States and affected by our laws.

Readers will search in vain for a passage in the Constitution establishing that illegal aliens are guaranteed representation in Congress, or a Federalist paper arguing that it is “foundational” to representative democracy for illegal aliens to be represented.

When did law-abiding American citizens consent to this view?

Biden claims “it reflects a sound policy judgment that the apportionment base be both clear and insulated against manipulation designed to affect the balance of power among the States.” This is rich in light of the shift in the balance of political power, and allocated federal funds, effectuated by the mere presence of foreigners on U.S. soil to the extent counted in the census.

Even more dumbfounding, President Biden argues that President Trump’s efforts to “exclude persons who are not in a lawful immigration status” from the census’s enumeration “conflicted with the principle of equal representation enshrined in our Constitution, census statutes, and historical tradition.”

Just like that, Joe Biden has sophistically reimagined “equal representation.” In fact, counting illegal aliens in the census count undermines the principle of “one man, one vote.” As the Department of Justice argues, obtaining an accurate count of the citizen voting-age population is essential to enforcing Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which protects citizens against discrimination such as vote-dilution through gerrymandering.

The Biden administration does not believe in equal representation. It apparently believes in under-representing its political foes—including, evidently, legal, lawful American citizens—by every available means.

While many are focusing on President Biden’s other immigration policies, one cannot understate the extent to which revoking President Trump’s policies regarding the census strikes at core elements of our republican system.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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