Increase the size of the House rather than bash immigrants

The Houston Chronicle, on January 21, ran an editorial that suggested increasing the size of the US House as an alternative to the proposal by a Michigan congress member to exclude non-citizens (whether legal resident or not) from the apportionment of House seats. And, yes, I am cited in the piece and, yes, the reporter (Cragg Hines) found me via F&V.

0 thoughts on “Increase the size of the House rather than bash immigrants

  1. Is it really “immigrant bashing” to suggest that representatives should represent citizens (or at least legal immigrants, who are generally on the path to naturalization)?

    I can see the argument for counting all citizens, and not just VAP, but what’s the argument for counting non-citizens other than the real impracticalities of doing so (which could be resolved by using sampling, admittedly a right-wing sibboleth, or some other estimation procedure)? Do non-citizens really need representation in Congress? “One person, one vote, unless your neighbor’s not a citizen, in which case you get 1.25” doesn’t have as much of a ring to it as the original. 🙂

    Then again, the overrepresentation of areas and states with high concentrations of noncitizens probably compensates somewhat for the underrepresentation of large states in the House (at least compared to Alaska and Wyoming).

  2. I think the issue of non-citizens is a prickly one in democratic theory. But I’ve always liked Robert Dahl’s idea that the democratic ideal implies that individuals should be able to have a voice in decisions that affect them. I think this could theoretically apply to non-citizen residents as well.

    At the very least, legal residents pay taxes (including Social Security taxes). Taxation without representation? They also have to abide by the laws and can be prosecuted for breaking them, even though they have no say in these laws. Interestingly, they’re also protected under most constitutional provisions of basic rights (due process, free speech, etc), in large measure because our national political theory implies that these rights exist for “all men” not “all legally recognized citizens of these thirteen colonies”.

    If we decide that the House of Representative must only represent citizens, then we can’t justify using population census data that includes non-citizens (or people who can’t vote, such as convicted criminals). We could use voter registration numbers to estimate the number of seats just as easily as population (though this would require a constitutional amendment, I think). If we decide that the House of Representatives must represent the population of a state, then it should include non-citizen residents. I don’t see how we can have one w/o the other.

    Or am I missing something?

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