How the Gang of Eight bill and immigration generally shift seats in the House of Representatives

By Steven A. Camarota November 2013
Center for Immigration Studies



The government counts all persons when apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives citizens, green card holders, guest workers, foreign students, and illegal immigrants. As a result, if the Gang of Eight immigration bill (S.744) becomes law, we project it may redistribute three seats in the House in 2020, and five seats in 2030. This redistribution is caused by the bill's dramatic increases in legal immigration, not the bill's amnesty provisions. In addition, S.744 can also be seen as redistributing seats by allowing illegal immigrants to stay, rather than using enforcement to cause them to return home. In 2010, the presence of illegal immigrants redistributed four seats.

Among the findings:

The seven million additional new residents that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects S.744 will add to the country by 2020 (above and beyond the current level of immigration) may cause Indiana, Oregon, and Virginia to each lose a seat in the House, while New York will gain a seat and California will gain two seats.

The 14.2 million new residents that the CBO projects S.744 will add by 2030 may cause Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Ohio to each lose a seat in the House, while California will gain three seats and New York and Florida will each gain a seat.

This redistribution of seats is not caused by the amnesty provisions of S.744. Those illegal immigrants are already here and most were counted in the 2010 census. Rather, S.744 would redistribute seats by doubling legal immigration, adding millions of additional residents.

By allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country, S.744 can also be seen as redistributing seats. The inclusion of illegal immigrants in the 2010 Census caused Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, and Ohio to each lose a seat, while Texas and Florida each gained a seat and California gained two seats.

The overall impact of immigration is very large. The 22.5 million non-citizens (both legal and illegal) in the country redistributed nine seats in the House in 2010. Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania each lost a seat. Florida and New York each gained a seat, Texas gained two seats, and California gained five seats.

The 40 million immigrants (citizen and non-citizen) in the 2010 census redistributed 18 seats. Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin each lost a House seat and Ohio lost two seats. New Jersey and Washington each gained a seat, Florida and Texas each gained two seats, New York gained three seats, and California gained nine seats.

Of the 18 seats redistributed by the 40 million immigrants in the country in 2010, 16 went to states that voted for President Obama in 2012. Thus, from a partisan perspective, immigration tends to benefit Democrats.

The redistribution caused by immigration tends to take representation away from states comprised mostly of U.S. citizens and give it to states where a large share of residents are not citizens. In the states that lost seats due to all immigrants in 2010, 96 percent of the voting-age population were citizens in contrast to 86 percent in the states that gained seats.

In the states that lost seats due to all immigrants in 2010, the average district had 543,243 voting-age citizens compared to 449,553 in the states that gained a seat. There is a real tension between large-scale immigration and the principle of "one man, one vote".

Introduction

This report examines the possible impact of S.744, which was passed by the U.S. Senate in June 2013, on the apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College. CBO projections indicate that S.744's substantial increases in future immigration would add seven million new residents to the United States population by 2020 and 14.2 million by 2030. It must be emphasized that these new residents are not the result of the amnesty or legalization provisions of the bill. Rather it reflects the dramatic increases in legal immigration in the bill.

The bill also allows almost all illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Using the Pew Hispanic Center's estimates of illegal immigrants by state for 2010, we project the impact of these illegal immigrants on apportionment. Finally, we project the impact of the 22.5 million non-citizens (legal and illegal) in the country on apportionment, as well as the total impact of the 40 million immigrants (citizen and non-citizen) included in the 2010 Census. It is worth pointing out that the impact on seats in the House is the same as on the Electoral College.

Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every 10 years expressly for the purpose of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. To apportion seats, each state first receives one representative, with the remaining seats distributed between the states based on their share of the total U.S. population, excluding the District of Columbia1 The apportionment population of each state is defined as the state's resident population plus all the state's military and civilian personnel of the federal government and their dependents at the time of the Census. The resident population is comprised of all persons counted in the census, including legal immigrants (citizen and non-citizen) and illegal immigrants.

The inclusion of illegal aliens is probably the most controversial part of the apportionment population. Congress may have the authority to change who is included in the apportionment population, but has so far has not done so.2 Illegal immigration, coupled with high levels of legal immigration, means that in 2010 one out of every eight U.S. residents (40 million) was foreign-born. The Census Bureau defines the foreign-born as people born outside of the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth. Immigration redistributes seats in the House and Electoral College for two reasons: The number of immigrants is so large and they are unevenly distributed throughout the country.

Findings

Immigration Increases in S.744. Table 1 shows the states that may gain or lose seats in 2020 and 2030 if S.744 becomes law. The table shows that the seven million new residents that the CBO projects S.744 will add by 2020 may cause Indiana, Oregon, and Virginia to each lose one seat in the House, while New York will gain a seat and California will gain two seats. By 2030 the 14.2 million new residents the CBO projects S.744 will add may cause Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Ohio to each lose a seat in the House, while California would gain three seats and New York and Florida would each gain a seat. In some cases a state fails to gain a seat it otherwise would have gained or retains a seat it otherwise would have lost.



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