Bennett wants Census to ID illegals
By Lee Davidson

Published: Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009 4:31 p.m. MDT

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, worries that some areas may gain extra representation in Congress — and extra federal funding — because illegal immigrants are included in Census counts.

So on Thursday, he introduced a bill that would require asking in the once-in-10-years Census whether people being counted are legal U.S. citizens.

"The current system is broken and unfair," Bennett said. "It does not make any sense for congressional seats and the Electoral College to be determined by a process that unfairly provides the advantage to those communities with high illegal populations."

Bennett added, "By requiring individuals to confirm their citizenship, my bill would allow the Census to report the population of lawful residents, rather than including illegal residents to determine representation."

While the bill seeks to add that question to the 2010 Census and thereafter, Bennett's bill may be too late for the Census next year — or could cost the nation big money if it passes.

The U.S. Census Bureau already started printing in July the 120 million questionnaires, with just 10 questions each, that will be sent to residents early next year. It has also spent millions to encourage people of all backgrounds to respond, noting that funding for their communities is often based on population counts.

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Many of the outreach efforts by the bureau have stressed that information it collects currently cannot be used by law to identify illegal immigrants or to help deport them.

How to handle undocumented people is becoming a heated issue in the race for Bennett's Senate seat next year. GOP candidates to the right of Bennett, including Cherilyn Eagar and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, have staked out hard-on-illegals stances to appeal to conservatives. Bennett's new bill may also help his appeal to the right as he seeks re-election.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. ... ack=rss-30