WASHINGTON—U.S. Rep. Candice Miller will tell anyone who will listen that Michigan is getting cheated because immigrant noncitizens are counted to determine how many members of Congress represent each state.
GOP leaders just wish she wouldn’t say it so loudly.
Today, in an effort to appease Republicans who are angry about what they call President George W. Bush’s lax immigration policy, the U.S. House will vote on a bill to toughen rules for detainment and expulsion of illegal immigrants. It would also increase the number of border patrol agents.
But Miller wants more.
She has collected 29 cosponsors for a bill to amend the Constitution so the number of U.S. citizens, instead of all people, would be used to determine the number of House members each state has after every census.
She says Michigan and eight other states lost one member of Congress after the 2000 census, while California picked up six seats, largely because noncitizens were included.
Michigan has been losing House seats for decades. In the 1970s, the state had 18 representatives. Today, it has 15.
Republican leaders have urged caution in dealing with illegal immigration, mindful of a possible backlash among Hispanics in elections next year.
The battle over immigration could be risky for Miller, who quickly rose in the GOP House hierarchy after she was elected in 2002. Last year, she chaired Bush’s presidential campaign in Michigan. Many Republicans wanted her to run next year against either Sen. Debbie Stabenow or Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
“I don’t mind losing a seat because American citizens have moved somewhere,” said Miller, whose district includes the northern two-thirds of Macomb County and much of the Thumb. “But to lose a congressional seat because of illegal immigrants is outrageous.”
“I plan to press it,” Miller said of her amendment. “It’s the ultimate slap in the face that illegal immigrants have the same rights as a United States citizen.”