Pro-Amnesty Advocates Decry Amendment to Add Immigration Status Question to 2010 Census

By Penny Starr | October 20, 2009 | 6:56 PM EDT

Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, spoke at a press conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill in opposition of the amendment offered by Republican senators to include a question on immigration status in the 2010 census. ( Starr)

( – Liberal, pro-amnesty advocates on Tuesday denounced an amendment proposed by Republican Sens. David Vitter (La.) and Robert Bennett (Utah) that would require the 2010 Census to ask all individuals whether they are citizens or lawful residents of the United States. 
The bill also would stipulate that for purposes of apportioning congressional seats, the population should be based on the number of legal residents of the United States.
“The Vitter amendment is deeply troubling,” Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “Not only does it undermine ten years and billions of dollars of preparation for the 2010 Census, it also contradicts what Americans stand for – the idea that all people are created equal.”
Henderson said the Republican amendment “tramples the Constitution,” including the 14th amendment that requires counting every person.
But Vitter told that the question is already part of the Census' long-form questionnaire.
“The fact of the matter is that they already ask these questions on the long form, get three million responses and have never noted a problem,” Vitter said. “The objections coming from the Census and their supporters are the typical intransigence of an entrenched bureaucracy.”
Vitter said the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that the 2010 Census is already costly and that Americans do not want to be represented in Congress based on population totals that include the estimated 12 -14 million people who are in the United States illegally.
“Cost too much?” Vitter said. “So far, this census has been projected by GAO to cost upwards of $13 billion and has been deemed by them as the most expensive census in history, even after adjusting for inflation,” Vitter said.
“The bottom line is that average Americans think it’s outrageous for illegals to be counted in congressional reapportionment,” he said.
Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the liberal think tank New Democratic Network and who described himself as “a proud Obama supporter,” said the amendment would not just alter census statistics.

Simon Rosenberg is the founder and president of the liberal think tank New Democrat Network, which sponsored the press conference to oppose the Vitter Bennett Amendment. ( Starr)

“If enacted, the amendment would almost certainly disrupt an orderly census count next year, eventually be found unconstitutional, all the while starting a highly divisive conversation about race, the Civil War and the 14th amendment in the very first year of America’s very first African American president,” Rosenberg said.
But in a statement announcing the introduction of the amendment on Oct. 7, Bennett said counting only the number of people who are in the country legally is necessary to make sure U.S. citizens are fairly represented in Congress.
“The system is broken and areas of the country with high illegal populations should not be rewarded with greater representation in Congress,” Bennett, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The decennial census is an overwhelming and extremely expensive undertaking and it must be done right.”
The amendment is based on the Fairness in Representation Act, introduced in the Senate by Bennett in September. The bill states it is designed “to prevent congressional reapportionment distortions by requiring that, in the questionnaires used in the taking of any decennial census of population, a checkbox or other similar option be included for respondents to indicate citizenship status or lawful presence in the United States.”
Other groups that oppose the amendment include the American Civil Liberties Union, American Federation of Teachers, Asian American Justice Center, National Council of La Raza, National Education Association, People for the American Way, and the Service Employees International Union.