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Rehberg Introduces Bill to Exclude Illegal Immigrants From Census Count

Location: Washington, DC

Rehberg Introduces Bill to Exclude Illegal Immigrants From Census Count

Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today introduced legislation that would exclude illegal immigrants from being counted for the purpose of determining the amount of seats in the U.S. House each state receives. Rehberg introduced the Fair and Accurate Representation Act of 2006 with Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI).

"Counting illegal immigrants as part of the population skews Congressional representation and that's a fact that can't be argued," said Rehberg. "An added House seat for Montana means another opportunity for Western values and ideals to be voiced in Congress. The more representation Montana has, the better."

The practice of counting illegal immigrants for congressional apportionment benefits states with large illegal immigrant populations such as California and Texas, which, combined, account for almost 20 percent of the seats in the House. Felons and children, who can't vote, are also counted. States with growing populations, such as Montana and Michigan, are passed over for additional representation as a result. Michigan's population has consistently risen in the past three decades, yet the state hasn't gained a House seat. Montana lost a congressional seat in 1990 as a result of this practice.

"The issue is fairness and it's not right that those breaking the law to enter this country have such a profound impact on our electoral system," Rehberg said. "This probably isn't a problem George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers envisioned our country would have to contend with, but that doesn't mean we can just ignore it."

Rehberg's bill is the House companion to similar legislation introduced in the Senate earlier this month by Sen. Conrad Burns. Currently, Montana is the largest congressional district in the U.S. population-wise, approaching 940,000 and the second-largest geographic district behind only Alaska. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana all would've gained seats after the 2000 census if illegal immigrants weren't counted.

"I'm glad we've got a Senate partner on this bill in Conrad," added Rehberg. "We're fighting to make sure Montana's voice in Washington isn't drowned out by congressional districts with large illegal immigrant populations."

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