Immigration Shifts Political Power

Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, November 21, 2013

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds that if the Gang of Eight immigration bill (S.744) becomes law, three states: Indiana, Oregon, and Virginia may lose seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020; and five states: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio may lose seats by 2030.  Immigration has the same redistributive impact on the Electoral College. In some cases a state fails to gain a seat it otherwise would have gained or retains a seat it otherwise would have lost.

The government counts all persons, including non-citizens, when apportioning seats. As immigrants tend to concentrate in a few states, this means that S.744’s large increases in legal immigration have implications for political representation.  Also, by allowing illegal immigrants to stay, S.744 can be seen as redistributing seats.  In 2010 illegal immigrants redistributed four seats.

View the report online at:
Dr. Steven Camarota, Director of Research at the Center, commented, “Legal immigration already shifts political power by adding more to some states’ populations than to others.  The Gang of Eight bill increases immigration so dramatically that by 2020 it will already have begun to reshape the political balance.”

Among the findings:

• The seven million new residents that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects S.744 will add to the country by 2020 may cause IN, OR, and VA to each have one less seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, while NY will gain an additional seat and California will gain two additional seats.

• The 14.2 million new residents that the CBO projects S.744 will add by 2030 may cause IA, KS, MN, NC, and OH to each have one less one seat, while CA will gain three seats, and NY and FL will each gain a seat.

• This redistribution of seats is not caused by the amnesty provisions of S.744. Those illegal immigrants are already here and most were counted in the last census. Rather, S.744 would redistribute seats by doubling legal immigration, adding millions of additional residents.

• By allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country, S.744 can also be seen as redistributing seats. The inclusion of illegal immigrants in the 2010 Census caused LA, MO, MT, and OH to each lose a seat, while Texas and Florida each gained one seat and California gained two seats.

• The overall impact of immigration is very large. The 22.5 million non-citizens (both legal and illegal) in the country redistributed nine seats in the House of Representatives in 2010. The states of  IN, IA, LA, MI, MS, MT, NC, OH, and PA each lost a seat in 2010. FL and NY each gained one additional seat, TX gained two seats, and CA gained five seats.

• The 40 million immigrants (citizen and non-citizen) in the 2010 census redistributed 18 seats. The states of AK, IN, IA, KY, LA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NC, OK, OR, PA, TN, VA, and WI, each lost a seat, while OH  lost two seats. New Jersey and WA each gained one seat, FL and TX each gained two seats, NY gained three seats, and CA gained nine seats.

• Of the 18 seats redistributed by the 40 million immigrants in the country in 2010, 16 went to states that voted for President Obama in 2012.  Thus, from a partisan perspective, immigration tends to benefit Democrats.

• The redistribution caused by immigration tends to take representation away from states comprised mostly of U.S. citizens and give it to states where a large share of residents are not citizens. In the states that lost seats in 2010, 96 percent of the voting-age population  were citizens in contrast to only 86 percent in the states that gained seats.

• In the states that lost seats due to immigration in 2010, the average district had 543,243 voting-age citizens compared to 449,553 in the states that gained a seat. There is a real tension between large-scale immigration and the principle of “one man one vote”.

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