This week, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation to make sure the census count that occurs every ten years tabulates the total number of persons in each State, and eliminates any provisions in the census requiring information on citizenship or immigration status. H.R. 3855, the Every Person Counts Act, amends title 13 of the U.S. Code to clarify that each decennial census accurately counts all people living in the nation, and does not exclude anyone based on immigration status.
Rep. Baca introduced H.R. 3855 in direct response to Senator Vitter's amendment number 2466 to the Commerce-Justice Science Appropriations Bill. The Vitter amendment, which may be adopted by the Senate, would require that 2010 Census questionnaires include a specific question asking the immigration status of respondents. If passed into law, this amendment would require the reprinting of 425 million Census questionnaires.
"The census is the most important source of data about our nation's population," said Rep. Baca. "We must not jeopardize a timely or accurate count because of the whims of some who choose to play politics with this issue."
"The Vitter amendment clearly violates the spirit of the Constitution, which mandates a count of all our nations' residents for apportionment purposes, and would cost our nation millions of dollars during this time of economic duress," continued Rep. Baca. "I am proud to introduce the Every Person Counts Act, which ensures this type of unconstitutional and discriminatory language cannot be included in the 2010 Census, or any future counts."
In addition to restricting the Secretary of Commerce from including any questions regarding citizenship or immigration status in the census, the Every Person Counts Act also ensures that children under the age of eighteen, overseas military personal, federal employees, and others that can be traced administratively back to a home state will not be excluded from any decennial census. H.R. 3855 is in line with Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that all residents of the United States be counted for apportionment purposes.
"The census provides information that is critical to everyone from government to business," added Rep. Baca. "Census data determines the allotment of federal funding to local communities for everything from housing, to education, to community health services, and law enforcement and judicial services. And businesses use this data to determine necessary marketing and growth strategies. There is too much at stake -- we can not afford any actions that would prevent a true count."
"In addition, census data is absolutely necessary for an accurate determination of Congressional representation and Electoral College figures," concluded Rep. Baca. "My legislation can help to guarantee an accurate count in the upcoming Census, and protect our nation from costly and discriminatory tactics like the Vitter amendment, which risks disenfranchising millions of Latinos from participating and being accurately counted."