Local Congressman proposes amendment to demand census citizenship question

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy

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U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, wants to include a citizenship question in the U.S. Census to avoid what he claims could be “diminished” voices of Ohio citizens because of illegal immigrants.

But Miami University political science professor Chris Kelley said immigration is irrelevant to Ohio’s downturn in its congressional delegation, “and has everything to do with the changing economy.”

“Illegal immigration, sanctuary cities don’t explain Ohio’s population loss over the past four decades,” he said. “That’s just the change in the economy.”

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Kelley said “the big macro answer” to why Ohio’s projected to drop to 15 House members after the next decennial census is how Ohio’s economy transformed from a heavy industry economy to a light service sector and technology economy.

“Ohio’s like these big Rustbelt states, it’s economy was so intertwined with heavy industry that when those jobs went away we found it hard to transfer,” he said. “It’s not just Ohio. It’s Pennsylvania, it’s Michigan, all of those states that were once heavy industry states are states that have lost population size to Texas and Florida.”

Davidson introduced last month his Fair Representation Amendment designed to push for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the practice of counting non-citizens during each decennial census. Counting only citizens, would give Ohio greater importance when it comes to the apportionment of 435 House representatives and electoral votes, he said.

“Ohio citizens should not have their voices diminished by other states harboring illegal aliens in sanctuary cities,” he said. “Many Americans don’t even realize that through current census practices, non-citizens dilute the influence of citizens — especially in Ohio and other states with lower non-citizen populations.

“The status quo of awarding states greater representation for this illegal behavior subverts our Constitution. Proper census calculations are needed to ensure that every citizen’s vote counts. That is what the Fair Representation Amendment seeks to accomplish.”

The census counts everyone residing within the United States, regardless if they are citizens or legal immigrants, or undocumented. Population determines how many seats are apportioned per district in the U.S. House of Representatives, and how many represent each state. As the country’s population has grown, states like California, Florida and Texas have benefited from increased House members. But Ohio’s congressional numbers have dropped.

In 1963, Ohio had 24 Congressmen while Texas had 23 and Florida had 12. California had 38. But over time, Ohio’s numbers have declined to 16 members of Congress while Texas sits at 36, Florida at 27 and California at 53.

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Some said the country needs a bigger House of Representatives. The Pew Research Center data shows it's been more than 100 years since the country increased its number of 435 House members when the United States' population was estimated to be 97.2 million. Today, it's estimated to be 325.7 million. Until 1913, the House of Representatives had steadily grown since its inception 1789 when there were 65 House members.

Ohio Democratic Party Executive Chairman David Pepper said this attempt is Davidson attempting “to rig the rules of the redistricting game to suit their own hyper-partisan goals.”

“The U.S. Constitution establishes that congressional districts must be apportioned by total population,” said Pepper. “The Founding Fathers clearly intended that everyone would be counted — even those unable to vote at the time, such as women, children, people without property, non-citizens and convicts. It’s no surprise that Warren Davidson is pushing this sort of divisive, extremist proposal.”

The bill’s introduction came days after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross cannot ask about citizenship in the 2020 census. But now, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the Trump Administration’s appeal, skipping the appellate courts. Arguments are set to happen in late April with a decision expected by late June, according to the Associated Press.

READ THE CONSTITUTION: Check out this interactive website for the U.S. Constitution

Kelley said bills like Davidson’s Fair Representation Amendment have more to do with “position taking” than actually getting a constitutional amendment passed — which takes a lot of agreement between the two major political parties, coordination between federal and state governments, and time.

“The members introduce hundreds of these constitutional amendments every session, and they’re never really designed to go anywhere,” he said.

Kelley said they’re designed to garner buzz and to show constituents they are “so serious he’s willing to change the Constitution for you.’”

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