Posted on March 23, 2006

Ohio House Says Immigrants Shouldn’t Count

Reginald Fields, Plain Dealer (Cleveland), March 22, 2006

Columbus — The Ohio House on Tuesday decisively said illegal immigrants and noncitizens should not be counted in the U.S. census when congressional seats are being determined.

Over sharp objections from a few lawmakers who raised discrimination arguments, the House voted 71 to 24 for a resolution that backs a proposal in Washington to change the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment.

The resolution has upset Ohio’s Latino and immigrant communities.

But without the change, Ohioans have a diminished voice in Washington, said State Rep. Kevin DeWine, a suburban Dayton Republican, who sponsored the House resolution.

While not allowed to vote, illegal immigrants and noncitizens are included in the census used to determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House.

Michigan Republican Rep. Candice Miller introduced a constitutional amendment last year that would change the 14th amendment to allow only “citizens” to be counted instead of “persons.” DeWine’s resolution would make Ohio the first state to support Miller’s proposal.

The system now benefits California, Texas and Florida, which have high numbers of illegal immigrants and noncitizens.

Miller’s proposal needs a two-thirds vote of Congress and to be ratified by 38 states — both longshot scenarios.

But DeWine figures it’s worth a shot. If 2010 census projections hold true, Ohio would lose two congressional seats.