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Unauthorized immigration skews congressional apportionment, with Democratic states gaining six seats in the House and and six electoral votes in the Electoral College
Overall, unauthorized immigrants and non-citizens benefit the Democratic party electorally and make it easier for them to attain both a House and Electoral College majority
AUTHORED BY PLURAL VOTE0Write a comment POLITICS
7/29/2017
PUBLISHED 5 MONTHS AGO
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The Census Bureau includes undocumented (or illegal) immigrants when it counts state populations for the apportionment of the United States' 435 congressional districts; each congressional district elects a representative to the House by population. This means that foreign nationals residing in the U.S., including undocumented immigrants and non-citizens, receive representation in the House (there are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. according to the United States Department of Homeland Security, and a total of 22.3 million non-citizens according to the U.S. Census). As a result, states with larger undocumented immigrant populations gain more representation in Congress and are allotted a larger number of Electoral College votes, since electoral votes are merely the sum of a state's number of Senators and number of members in the House of Representatives. Democratic states (defined as states that voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016) received a net total of six seats because of their unauthorized immigration numbers in the last official apportionment for congressional representation in 2010. In this way, undocumented immigration serves as an electoral boon to Democrats. If the Census Bureau did not count non-citizens, Democrats would lose ten seats. Democratic states gain these seats at the expense of Republican seats, since the House has its number of congressional districts fixed at 435.



For this Plural Vote analysis, we used the method used by the U.S. Government and defined by the U.S. Census to calculate the distribution of House seats, and by extension, the Electoral College with and without unauthorized (or illegal) immigration.

We can observe that Trump's electoral margin of victory would have been larger if not for these sources of immigration, as well as the Republican party's majority in the House. Trump won his presidential victory in the Electoral College by a margin of 176 electoral votes. If undocumented immigrants were not counted in the process of apportioning seats, Trump would have won by an even larger margin: 188 electoral votes. This would mark a 6% increase in Trump's margin of electoral college victory. The GOP currently has a 47-seat margin in the House of Representatives. If undocumented immigrants were not counted in the process of the allocation of House seats, Republicans would have a 59-seat margin in the House, a margin 26% larger than their current one, assuming that every extra congressional district gained by Democratic states votes Democratic.

Twenty out of fifty states have a number of electoral votes equal to or fewer than six, which is the number of electoral votes Democratic states gain in presidential elections due to unauthorized immigration. Undocumented immigrants essentially give Democrats a de facto new state, with 6 electoral votes - equal to the number of electoral votes of states like Nevada and Iowa.
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The United States Census Bureau conducts a decennial population census of every state in order to proportionately distribute seats in the United States House of Representatives. This is according to the Constitution, which states that "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States ... according to their respective Numbers ... . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years." Pew Research Center estimated the number of unauthorized immigrants in every state in the U.S. in 2014. Using their estimate, we can calculate how seats would be allocated if each state's illegal immigrant population was not counted in its overall population (according to the 2010 Census). From this information, we can compare the theoretical congressional apportionment to the current allocation of congressional seats including undocumented immigrants.

StatePopulation census data, April 1, 2010Population without undocumented immigrationSeats with undocumented immigrantsSeats without undocumented immigrantsChange in seats because of undocumented immigrationParty gain through undocumented immigration
California39,250,01734,904,50353512D+2
Florida20,612,43917,954,62327261R+1
Washington7,288,0006,474,5431091D+1
Ohio11,614,37311,441,7251617-1D+1
Missouri6,093,0005,933,92789-1D+1
Louisiana4,681,6664,463,47967-1D+1
Montana1,042,520984,41712-1D+1
Net gainD+6

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How would the distribution of congressional seats look like if all non-citizens, not only undocumented immigrants, were not counted in the process? The following table illustrates how many seats Democrats gain because of non-citizens, using 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation data of the proportion of non-citizens for every state.

StatePopulation census data, April 1, 2010Population without non-citizensSeats with non-citizensSeats without non-citizensChange in seats because of non-citizensParty gain through non-citizens
California39,250,01732,411,41853494D+4
Florida20,612,43917,112,20727261R+1
Indiana6,633,0536,289,702910-1D+1
Iowa3,134,6932,955,46345-1D+1
Louisiana4,681,6664,442,80967-1D+1
Missouri6,093,0005,869,14889-1D+1
Montana1,042,520979,52312-1D+1
North Carolina10,146,7889,058,9071314-1D+1
Ohio11,614,37311,190,6231617-1D+1
Pennsylvania12,784,22712,321,8001819-1D+1
Texas27,862,59622,380,03336342R+2
Washington7,288,0006,186,5801091D+1
Net gainD+10

The Supreme Court recently upheld the principle of "one person, one vote", meaning that the House's seats are distributed via a Census that counts all people, including undocumented immigrants and non-citizens. In other words, every individual counts towards a state's representation, instead of just voters, citizens, or legal residents. The status quo for determining state's population is maintained in a way that tends to benefit Democrats. However, if the flow of unauthorized immigration were really to continue decreasing under Trump as it has been, Democrats might stand to lose out on potential future electoral gains.
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Written by PLURAL VOTE. This article was last updated on 7/29/2017.General topic:POLITICS
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