The End of the Citizenship Fight


Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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  1. TLDR: The Trump administration is exactly who you thought they were.Report

  2. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    At least some of the data that the federal government collects for particular purposes comes with statutory restrictions on using it for other purposes. Some of those restrictions show up in peculiar ways — eg, the BLS excludes companies from its reports on firms by type by geographic area when there are so few businesses of a particular type that the data could be tied to a single, or handful, of companies.

    I will be curious to see how many lawsuits the sharing attempts spawn.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      You can only sue over the sharing if you know it’s taking place.

      And once the data is handed over and mixed with data from other sources, it can’t be unshared.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    To what extent are undocumented immigrants entitled to representation in Congress?Report

    • That’s one of the focal points of the debate. The Constitution says “counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.” Does that mean just citizens? Legal residents?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        The constitution uses “persons” throughout, clearly meaning that rights are intrinsic to a person.

        Why this is so important is that there is always a desire to use the mechanics of law to transform some people into “unpersons”, without rights or protections.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          This is exactly why I am do distrustful of the Left pushing back on this and why they are now advocating so strongly for opening the borders. It is starting very much to feel like trying to counter gerrymandering and the electoral college by stacking the deck with recent refugees and migrants that are heavily dependent on social services.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Yes, our diabolical strategy is to force you to decide whether respect for the humanity of other persons is as important as preserving whatever it is you get from a Republican government.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

              Is this the part where we pretend that Democrats are only interested in doing what is right and don’t actually care about winning elections?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Assume we are cynical power craving monsters.

                Would that cause you to support the concentration camps? Would you support a rapist for office, excuse collaboration with Russians?

                FWIW I ask the same of my liberal brethren with respect to tactics; We don’t need a liberal Trump no matter how much schadenfruede that might bring.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


                – I do support DETAINMENT CAMPS but I’m good with making them nicer and keeping families together while they are there. (Side note: German detainees during WWI were allowed to build little villages and whatnot to remind them of home).

                – I would not endorse a rapist for office (or his accomplice wife – see HRC)

                – I would not and have never excused collaboration with Russia by anyone – including Bernie Sanders.

                My counter-question is would you agree that large numbers of non-citizens that are dependent on social services probably benefit Democrats more than Republicans?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Yes, I would agree.

                I suppose we should also agree that farmer dependent on subsidies also benefits Republicans more than Democrats, but you don’t see us using that as an excuse to hurt farmers.

                Your desire to hurt or avoid helping Democrats seems to be driving your policy preferences more than any broad principle.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Farm subsidies are basically an American tradition at this point and I think they have transcended partisanship. With that said, I think every time Democrats talking about doing away with the EC are just generally badmouth red voters in rural areas, they are trying to hurt farmers.

                I’m not trying to hurt Democrats with my policy preferences. To the contrary I am simply pointing out I think their motivations are more self-serving than they are admitting (though kudos to you for being honest about it).Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I’m rather proud to say that upholding human rights and dignity of people benefits the Democratic Party.

                I’m serious about this. The parties aren’t symmetrical in their desire for power.
                The Democrats actually want to improve the lives of everyone who lives in America, whereas the Republicans don’t, and they admit this openly.

                So yeah, in this historical moment, the interests of justice and the Democratic Party are pretty closely aligned.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Oh barf. If you all want to improve lives, fix your cities. You have had close to 100 years to get it right. Instead of worrying about making life great for refugees, look at the people that are already here and maybe actually do something to help. Seriously.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Shoot, human rights and dignity, hahahaha what a fishing bunch of BS.

                Here is a map of human trafficking/slavery:

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Republicans are welcome to propose things which would help everyone’s lives.

                Jack Kemp did back in the 90’s.
                His ideas may have been mistaken but they were, from what I can tel,l sincere in the belief that they would make significant improvement in the lives of poor urban residents.

                Even GWB trotted out the idea of something called “compassionate conservatism” prior to 9-11.

                But now? Well, all the GOP has to offer is American Carnage, and the ravings of a sociopath to which they applaud lustily.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Two wrongs don’t make a right Chip. The current iteration of the GOP is a shitshow. You’ll get no argument from me there. But pointing that out while Democrats flit from one issue to another in some kind of ADD-esque frenzy to be all things to all people…all the while neglecting their oldest constituencies…is the reason why some many urban areas are struggling.

                As I think Jaybird pointed out you said a year ago that no one on the Left was seriously proposing Open Borders and now it seems to be an actual progressive plank…how quickly you all change course. As bad as the GOP may be, at least they are steady.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                No one anywhere is proposing a complete abolition of any kind of control over the border.

                It was true a year ago, its true today.

                Everyone wants some sort of controlled border, we just want to control it differently than you do.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Sure. Let’s call it border control. But if someone makes it past those controls…we let them stay and give them lots of stuff. It’s kind of a fun game really. It’s like when I was in my 20s and we used to try to sneak booze into the Kentucky Derby. If you got it in, it was game on, but if the cops caught you they just confiscated it and we all had a good laugh.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                So, now make it work for the 40-50% of people who are in the country illegally who entered on a visa and decided (before or after arrival) to just stay. A percentage that appears to be accurate for new people as well as the existing population.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                It doesn’t appear my last comment made it, hope this one works


              • Avatar George Turner says:

                I beg to differ. Jefferson Davis and Bull Connor were all about dignity, too.

                Improve the lives of everyone? Many Democrats don’t even want us to own cars (see AOC), and they certainly don’t want Hispanics to succeed or they wouldn’t keep cutting the bottom rung of the ladder out from under them.

                Hispanics have trouble building a bright future when Democrats make them compete with a constant influx of people for entry-level jobs, people who come illegally and with virtually nothing, not even a high-school diploma, and who move into the neighborhoods where a previous wave of Hispanics was trying to get established and build property values.

                And Democrats are perfectly content with taking the piece of pie we set aside for programs to help compensate blacks for the historical legacy of institutional racism, and just hand that pot of money over to whatever random groups walks through the door next. Blacks lose not only their jobs, but their neighborhoods, because among the things Hispanics don’t bring with them is white guilt, or even the idea of racial equality.

                The truth is, liberals want to have a permanent under-class of gardeners, maids, and farm laborers harvesting organically grown arugula and free range chickens for them, in perpetuity, but they want to feel enlightened and woke about it.

                Notice that their caring magically starts at a processing center, and it mostly ends when Hispanics leave the processing center, lasting just long enough to make sure their gardener can get a drivers license and their waiter has a place where he can sleep five to a room.

                None of them have even thought about the conditions in Central America that are causing such desperation, unless they can find a way to blame it on Republicans. None of them are ever going to volunteer to head down there and try to make lives better, or reform their governments, or bring them jobs, or insist on better building codes or establishing widespread legal property deeds.

                Their caring is of a peculiar kind that seems to begin and end with making sure that they heave a ready supply of expendable servants who work cheap, work hard, and know their place, and who are unhindered by any outside interference that might affect that cheap and convenient service. Most importantly, they want meek servants who aren’t going to go off on a rant about white oppression and slavery.

                In support of those observations, I haven’t heard a peep from Democrats about leading liberals down into Central America to try and help the tens of millions of people who weren’t even well off enough to join a caravan through Mexico.

                Why should all these millions coming to the US have to leave their homes if Democrats could just go down there and fix their native communities? Republicans, of course, can’t do any such thing because we’d be accused of imperialism and foreign adventurism, but Democrats could surely pull it off. Unfortunately, they have absolutely no use for a Guatemalan in Guatemala, because that doesn’t get the grass cut, and that doesn’t pay for cushy city jobs processing applications for social services.

                But maybe I’m just cynical.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Cosigning this. Well said George.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                “they want meek servants who aren’t going to go off on a rant about white oppression and slavery.”

                This makes no sense even by its internal logic.
                If that’s what we want, why would we want to legalize these people, give them benefits, and therefore reduce their helplessness?

                Its an example of the fact-free bad faith deflection and diversion engaged in by the Trumpists.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Tell us again why your yammering about those bad, bad, Trumpists, while LA is a hotbed for….Slavery and human trafficking?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Yeah, beats me why a major international entry point would be a hotbed of trafficking.

                I would have expected it to be Tumbleweed Corners, Nevada.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Yeah we could probably look past the trafficking, but the slavery, that’s has neo plantation written all over it.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Plus, aren’t those entry points in the most heavily Democrat regions of the nation? Where yall are supposed to be really good at this whole government regulation stuff?

                I mean I understand ending the whole stop and frisk thing, but maybe, stop and let the slaves go, might be a thing.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                You want to only very slightly reduce their helplessness, not eliminate it. If you eliminated it they might as well be Asian doctors, Indian tech CEOs, or Jewish tax attorneys, none of whom are going to cut your grass or give bring you free chips and salsa.

                You’re legalizing them so you don’t have to dodge bullets in the barrio to find someone to roof your house. You’re giving them benefits so you can pay them less out of your own pocket, and so they don’t get desperate enough to go back to Central America before your gutters get cleaned.

                Many of these people will always be helpless in the US because they can’t compete on our playing field. Only 25% of the Guatemalan labor force graduated high school. 25% of their labor force say they never got to first grade. 50%of their indigenous women can’t read and write in Spanish.

                Their kids may do great, but there’s no way we can take adults who can’t even read Spanish and who never went to elementary school and prepare them to enter the US workforce as a full and equal participant. They will always be dependent on a great many other people, and no white liberal will ever fear losing a soft cushy job to one.

                You are importing maids and gardeners and making sure they never have any bargaining power and never have any real opportunity, except perhaps once in a blue moon as a token political success story.

                Basically, you’re taking all the space blacks have carved out over centuries with blood and sweat and are handing it to your shiny new pets, because it lets you feel even whiter, more privileged, more magnanimous, and more woke.

                From one perspective, it’s just as evil as slavery or Jim Crow, and flows for the same need for secure social superiority, status, and a warm feeling of benevolence toward the teeming bottom classes.

                I point this out because when you bask in feelings of moral superiority from a position that happens to shower you with status, privilege, wealth, and cheap servants, the moral superiority might not actually be real.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                You’re talking in circles.

                We want to give them benefits, but keep them helpless, they can’t compete yet they undercut labor.

                The simplest way for Republicans to totally own us libs is if you offered immigrants a sweet package of legalization, citizenship minimum wages and free college.

                You should totally do it- trust me, we would be so devastated!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As an architect, do you have any opinions on government subsidies for the creation of housing for our new guests?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I’m in the private sector, but remember back when the actually such a thing as subsidized housing, it was the ghetto of firms that couldn’t get other work.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Hrm. So do you think we’d all be better off if they contracted it out?Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Free college for hundreds of thousands of people who never went to first grade?

                That’ll be peachy.

                The labor they compete with is entry level. You know, the other poor folks who were trying to get ahead as a day laborer, but then got fired or had to take a pay cut because illegals worked cheaper.

                As I said, you’re stealing jobs, housing, and benefits from one group that Democrats oppressed to try and buy the cheap service of a bunch of illegals who had nothing to do with this country and its history until about two weeks ago. Many minorities are certainly noticing.

                People are struggling at the bottom, and you’re setting up bare-knuckle fighting matches and selling tickets.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                “Neither is decadence physical. The citizens of nations in decline are sometimes described as too physically emasculated to be able to bear hardship or make great efforts.

                This does not seem to be a true picture. Citizens of great nations in decadence are normally physically larger and stronger than those of their barbarian invaders. Moreover, as was proved in Britain in the first World War, young men brought up in luxury and wealth found little difficulty in accustoming themselves to life in the front-line trenches. The history of exploration proves the same point.

                Men accustomed to comfortable living in homes in Europe or America were able to show as much endurance as the natives in riding camels across the desert or in hacking their way through tropical forests. Decadence is a moral and spiritual disease, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power, producing cynicism, decline of religion, pessimism and frivolity.

                The citizens of such a nation will no longer make an effort to save themselves, because they are not convinced that anything in life is worth saving.”

                -John GlubbReport

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Its weird how much you and I agree.

                We both see a stark class division with an out of touch elite oppressing a alienated working class.

                We both want to use the power of government to force employers to pay a higher wage than the free market would produce.

                I just think that my method of minimum wage laws and labor unions produces a more just result than sealing off the border with an iron curtain and a gulag archipelago of concentration camps.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


                I agree with George on this. You have already stated that your hopes are pinned to the widget factory coming back to the US and I guess paying them minimum wage to keep making the widgets here (read: cost increase for the widget company so I’m not sure why they would agree in the first place but…). You’re not offering them anymore than the very bottom rung of the US economic ladder, and you will keep them alive and moderately healthy with social services. What about dealing with their home countries rather than simply adding to the American underclass? Is the only difference that they can vote for Democrats if we bring them here?Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I do support DETAINMENT CAMPS but I’m good with making them nicer and keeping families together while they are there.

                I support unicorns farting rainbows with pots of gold at the end of them to pay off the national debt, but that isn’t going to happen either.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Dude – AOC visited them, she cried, etc. Julian Castro snuck a friggin’ camera in and took pictures! I’m sure lots of Spanish was spoken and stuff. American heroes…. Things will change!Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Who’s going to change them?

                The Trump Administration or the “professionals” who let them get this bad and really weren’t that much better during the Obama Administration when you look at it.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                Well we already know that the current administration (and it sounds like the previous one too) are using crappy conditions as a deterrent. I still say the best way to deal with that is for the international community to stop these people in Mexico and provide better conditions. Just don’t let them into the US until things are better.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Keeping immigrants out of the country is not the point.

                Trump and his supporters want immigrants here, but kept as unpersons, stripped of any protections of the law and available as an exploitable underclass.


                The report’s conclusion:
                “The Administration executed a deliberate policy to take thousands of babies, infants,
                toddlers, and children away from their parents and transfer them to government custody, in some
                cases in deplorable conditions.”

                The cruelty is the point. The infliction of terror and arbitrary state power is the point.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                While I agree with you, I’m going to need it explained to me how Open Borders is anywhere but in the same ballpark of likely.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                Because it’s far, far easier to destroy an agency’s ability to be effective than to reform it, and ISTR you’re one of the people arguing that promises to decriminalize improper entry, et c. are tantamount to having “open borders”.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                The mess we’re in, specifically with immigration, but also more broadly, has a ton to do with the fact that Congress is simply unable or unwilling to actually address the policy problems at all, so it’s left up to the Executive, and the one thing that the Executive has a pretty free hand in is limiting the effectiveness of the agencies it administers.

                This is obviously a really bad way to run a railroad, but unless Congress somehow gets its collective shit together it’s the only available way to keep the railroad running at all.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                ISTR you’re one of the people arguing that promises to decriminalize improper entry, et c. are tantamount to having “open borders”.

                It’s not, though.

                It’s only open borders for low-skilled immigrants.

                If we’re going to have Controlled And Protected Borders when it comes to doctors and lawyers and people who’d end up paying enough taxes to cover the costs of the Roads! they’re using, we’re going to want Open Borders.

                Decriminalizing improper entry pretty much only covers them what are willing to risk death by walking here.

                We’d get the people who injure themselves doing our domestic help without getting the doctors who’d treat them after they do so.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Someone watches a lot of Fox News.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        whatever the merits of the citizenship question, it was clear that the Commerce Department had made a political decision

        Is keeping the question off of the census also a political decision?

        Or is only one of the options political?Report

        • The decision to remove it in 1950 was to improve accuracy. The decision to put it back, according to the discovery, was to decrease the number of residents counted in heavily Democratic areas.

          But yes, the motives of the Democrats in the side they’ve taken has little to do with the law and everything to do with protecting their representation.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If someone says “no, I am not a citizen” does that remove them from being part of the count?

            I mean, has it already been established that illegal immigrants should be counted toward congressional representation or is that still up in the air?Report

            • Non-citizens — legal or illegal — are counted for the purpose of representation. Changing it would either require a Constitutional Amendment or a serious rewriting of US law (which would probably spawn a court challenge).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I didn’t know that. I guess I always just kinda assumed that someone saying that they were here illegally would result in them not being counted toward representation.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                People can be here legally and not yet citizens. They even have special cards for them in some shade of green i believe.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You’re absolutely right, Greg.

                Allow me to rephrase my statement in light of your correction:

                If someone says “no, I am neither a citizen nor a resident alien” does that remove them from being part of the count?Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Their kids have to be accepted by the public schools. If they show up at a hospital emergency room, they have to be treated. They pay sales taxes, and at least through rent, property taxes. (As best I can remember from my most recent house-buying experience, no one asked if I was a citizen or legal resident — but that may be incorrect.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                New York handled this by creating an ESL Ghetto. It said “English as a Second Language”, but there weren’t any Jamaicans who spoke the Patois in there. The Jamaicans who spoke the Patois were put into the classes outside of the ESL ghetto.

                I wasn’t asked if I was a citizen when I bought my house, but I was asked if I was a citizen when I got my mortgage.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “I wasn’t asked if I was a citizen when I bought my house, but I was asked if I was a citizen when I got my mortgage.”

                From what I can tell, that has more to do with concerns over Chinese businessmen parking cash in American real estate than it does with Mexicans crossing the border and wanting somewhere to live.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                A large number of them pay income tax as well.

                Libertarians: No Taxation without Representation… if you have the right documents.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Libertarians: No taxation

                (No documents required)Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                What did you think the 3/5ths compromise was about?

                Slave states wanted them counted on the Census (to increase their representation in Congress), and non-slaves states pointed out they were property, not people, and that would be like adding cattle to the count.

                It’s always been “persons” — never restricted to citizens. Indians not taxed added an additional bit, because Native Americans on reservations (ie, not taxed) aren’t represented because they’re outside the usual US government system. It’d be like counting embassy staff.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It was about the debate over whether people who weren’t going to have a voice in the government ought to be counted toward the apportionment of representatives toward those who would have a voice in the government.


                What did you think it was about?Report

              • Avatar morat20 says:

                Nope. It was about whether slaves counted as property or people for reapportionment.

                You adding “citizens” and “voice in the government” was not part of the debate.

                The US Constitution does differentiate between “persons and people” and “citizens”. The Census and reapportionment language used “persons”, excluding slaves (because they were property, but adding in the 3/5ths language) and “Indians not taxes” — because non-taxed Native Americans weren’t actually living on US soil.

                This whole entire argument was had by the Founding Fathers, and they explicitly went with “all people” not “all citizens”. Not just the language used in the Constitution, but the very arguments they had — whether Indians on reservations counted and whether slaves were people or property — made it even more explicit.

                The idea that “only citizens should be counted” is not historically supported by anything.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You adding “citizens” and “voice in the government” was not part of the debate.

                My comment didn’t use the word “citizens”.

                As for “voice in the government”, how many votes did slaves drop in the ballot box to choose their representatives, Morat?

                Maybe you can clear up for me what “whether slaves counted as property or people for reapportionment” actually *MEANT* in practice, when it came to counting bodies for the census.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                It’s always amazing how people look at the 3/5ths compromise and think that “slaves don’t count as people” was the pro-slavery position…Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                The 3/5ths compromise and “Indians not taxed” indicate that apportionment was based on citizens and legal residents, since they weren’t counting Indians not under US jurisdiction and weren’t fully counting slaves, but were counting free blacks.

                Likewise, I don’t think wintering Canadians and Disneyland visitors are supposed to counted toward Florida’s portion of House seats.

                One could also make a good argument that a Mayan illegal from Honduras who is flying under the radar exactly fits the definition of “Indian not taxed.”Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      I’m not sure what you mean, but it appears permissible for states to draw districts based upon registered voters, instead of total population. There was a challenge to Texas’ redistricting for failing to use the voting population to draw lines, but the SCOTUS ruled it wasn’t required. Many states apportion based upon permanent resident population, expressly excluding groups like out-of-state inmates and military.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I mean, like, let’s say we have two states that are both on the bubble of getting/losing a congressperson.

        State A and State B.

        State A has an uninteresting number of illegal immigrants.
        State B has a *HUGE* number of illegal immigrants.

        If you count illegal immigrants toward representation, State B gets the congressperson.
        If you do not count illegal immigrants toward representation, State A gets it.

        Which state *SHOULD* get the representative?

        (That’s what I mean.)Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw says:

          OK, it’s easy for me at least to get confused when there are three different things going on here: (1) apportionment btw/ states; (2) apportionment within states; and (3) individual voting.

          But just because someone can’t vote (e.g., children), doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t represented.Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        It’s not quite as partisan as it might seem. With about 300 million people and 435 House seats, the sweet spot is about 700,000 people per seat. The states with extra seats because of illegals would be California (3), Texas (2), Florida (1), New York (1). Illinois and Georgia might also come close. That’s a pretty even split in the EC.

        It really means more lower down, because if a rural district, say in California’s central valley, has enormous numbers of illegal farm laborers and a small number of land owners, and they’re given representation based on the total number of people, the estate owners get to punch far above their weight, just like old Southern plantation owners who wielded extra political weight according to the masses of the 3/5ths they oppressed.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Too many years working for a state legislature, guess… Congress is not the only representative body for which census numbers are used. State legislative districts will be drawn based on the census numbers, and in some cases it will affect state funding allocations. If I were one of the state AGs involved in the case, I would certainly argue that the federal executive branch cannot, by fiat, adopt questions their own experts have testified will result in systematic undercounts in parts of my state.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “To what extent are undocumented immigrants entitled to representation in Congress?”

      tres-quintos as much as citizens, señorReport

  4. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Since this basically deconstructs national citizenship, I no longer see a reason for federal taxation of national citizens.


  5. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I will say that I never really understood why this was so problematic from a simple data collection standpoint. As a trained social scientist and amateur genealogist the census is an invaluable source of information. Why wouldn’t we want a more complete picture of our population?Report

    • Avatar JoeSal says:

      I think it is like gun registration.

      It allows political factions to leverage government power to start picking winners and losers by enacting policy.

      Outside of that, yeah more data is typically better.

      (although, that doesn’t solve many of the problems with resolving social objectivity)Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Because there was a fear asking about citizenship would make a lot of people fearful of cooperating with the census thus making it less useful. It would lead to an under count of some persons. The census people has said there are other ways of figuring out how many non citizens are present so we can get that info.

      The suspicion that the census was being used to undercount comes from a lot of things. But most recently, yesterday, Trump said some states might want to aporation districts based solely on current citizens instead of total population as has been done. To be clear this would exclude counting LEGAL immigrants who aren’t citizens yet and other groups like felons who don’t’ have there voting right restored. This is aimed at limiting the voting power of immigrant communities. It’s part and parcel of R gerrymandering.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        I don’t think I buy the fear of cooperation angle, given what I have seen from historic census records.

        I have mixed feelings on when we allow legal immigrants to vote, so that would also translate to districting I suppose. I feel certain it should not be ‘the day they step off the boat’ but maybe it could be ‘sometime before they actually become citizens’. I’m just very leery of giving too much political clout to large groups of people that tend to congregate together in cities and are more heavily dependent on social services.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          It’s sad but true that even legal latino immigrants fear ICE and immigration authorities since they can be massively hassled despite being legal. It’s not that far different from the fear most POC communities have of the cops.

          Well i have say “congregate in cities” is just plain silly. I don’t know how else to respond. Who cares where immigrants live. There are immigrants in Nome and Barrow Alaska, i’ve eaten at their restaurants. But since most people live in cities, it makes sense that most immgrints will also live in cities.

          Social services: Meh. I know that is a talking point but lots of poor people go on to pay plenty in taxes and not need social services. Of the many immigrants ive known the most likely services for them to receive in gov medical care due to our crazy pants health care system. But maybe that is just me. All the immigrants i’ve known work one or two jobs or own their own business.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Congregating (ghettoization) behooves Democrats. Yes, a lot of Latino immigrants end up more dispersed due to their involvement with agriculture and construction, however I think it’s pretty well established that Democrats prefer citizens to be in urban environments for any number of reasons.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      Wanting a more accurate picture of how many people are citizens seems entirely legitimate to me.

      The problem here is that this approach might have actually just generally screwed up the accuracy of other data while not providing a good answer to the question they were asking in the first place. That’s why the internal objections that Ross overruled weren’t, “Don’t try to do that!” but, “Hey, here are some other approaches that will work while not compromising other goals of the census.”

      Even there it might have been legal (lots of terrible policy is legal) if it weren’t a pretext for craven partisanship and bigotry.Report

    • There’s nothing wrong with that. That was what the long census form was for, which has since been replaced by the American Community Survey. Trump will still get the citizenship information, just not through the census form.Report

    • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

      Most of that additional data collection has moved to the Current Population Survey. It is ongoing and regularly updated. In this day and age, data that updates every 10 years runs out of usefulness pretty quick. The census is hugely expensive, but since it theoretically counts everyone, it can be used to reanchor statistical surveys. Being the only survey that should count everyone, it seems best to get that part as accurate as possible.Report

  6. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    “it was clear that the Commerce Department had made a political decision that they were trying to rationalize by any means possible.”

    I’m not sure that was the reason for Roberts’ decision: this is from his opinion: “a court may not set aside an agency’s policymaking decision solely because it might have been influenced by political considerations or prompted by an Administration’s priorities. Agency policymaking is not a rarified technocratic process, unaffected
    by political considerations or the presence of Presidential power.”

    I read this as a procedural issue. Agency’s get to make policy decisions, but judicial review requires the Agency to submit the record of its decision to the Court. This was justified because shifting explanations, indicating an incompleteness. If this had gone forward, the documentation submitted and it came back to the SCOTUS. Roberts could have written an opinion allowing the question to go forward, saying that the court has done its job in allowing the political process to work efficiently by allowing the public and the political actors to know the relevant details.

    That makes it a victory for limiting the powers of agencies.Report

  7. Avatar greginak says:

    As a general response to some of the questions about why people were so correctly cynical about the citizenship question there is currently a court case about this whole mess. There was recent evidence found on hard drives of a republican voting consultant who directly stated using a citizenship question would help R’s craft districts to amplify the voting power of whites. The dude has been used by R’s for many years and advised the gov on the census.

  8. Avatar greginak says:

    Why would a citizenship question hurt census accuarcy???
    “But ICE makes mistakes. American citizens can get caught in its maw — even white Americans. According to the Cato Institute, from 2006 to 2017 ICE wrongfully detained more than 3,500 U.S. citizens in Texas alone.”

    Because lots of people fear ICE, cops, etc. They have good reason to since even actual citizens can get sporked over by them. The people most likely to be hurt, even if they are legal, would be much less likely to respond to the census leading to their under count.

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      The people most likely to be hurt, even if they are legal, would be much less likely to respond to the census leading to their under count.

      My assumption was that the undocumented weren’t counted (because they shouldn’t have been counted).

      I’m not sure how off-base my assumption is/was.

      If that assumption is shared by enough people, they’d see undocumented migrants as leading to an overcount.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        They should be counted in some way because the constitution thing says “person”, right?
        Policies that lead legal people to be under-counted are even worse and seem to be a big part of this.

        How is an over count even possible? What does that mean? Counting more people then actually exist? Ghosts? In the best case case the census should tell us accurately who lives in the good ol US of A. If the actual census isn’t the best tool there are other admin ways of estimating the number of illegals which has been said repeatedly by the census.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Without raising an eyebrow at the assumption of plain-language readings of the Constitution, I’d say that the Constitution says:

          Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

          Now the question is whether there are exclusions to census and what the nature of the excisions would be, if there are any.Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            Given that there was no such thing as illegal immigration for the first ~100 years, I don’t know there is an originalist, plain language answer. The founders seemed quite happy with and capable of building a country with open borders.

            If there was a need for an answer from some founding thoughts: I would say that the whole “no taxation without representation” thing would include pretty much anyone who resides here.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Then it just becomes a taxation question. No representation without taxation! (Receipts required.)

              Way back when we were discussing the Soda Ban, a handful of people commented that we had an obesity crisis.

              Shazbot5 made an interesting comment:

              The claim is not so much about owing government. Rather, the claim is this: Your actions are costing other individuals in society whom are paying to help you, thereby making it harder to help others, therefore you have a moral obligation to act so as to need less of that help, amd the state will sometimes write that obligation into law when doing so is possible without draconian violations of individual autonomy.

              We live in a world of mutual obligations to help each other and to not misuse that help. Unless you are a hardcore, Nozick-style libertarian who thinks that the only factor we should look at when deciding what is good and just policy is to ensure that we don’t violate individual rights.

              It’s one thing to have open borders when your welfare system consists of telling people to go screw themselves. It’s quite another when you have them when you’ve got a much more robust welfare system.

              The more goods/services that are… I don’t want to say “given”… let’s say “provided”, the more obligations that others will see are due in response.

              (There’s also a multiculturalism angle but given that most of us on the board think that multiculturalism is limited to restaurants and skin tone, I’m not sure that that angle will be a useful road to wander down.)Report

              • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

                You read a bit more into than I had intended. Point was that founder wisdom is probably not applicable here.

                I agree that the technology changed, morality changed, society changed and we changed with it. I think it is little coincidence that the rise of immigration laws roughly correlates with the ability of poor people to migrate internationally.

                I don’t know that the baseline “provided” has changed all that much relative to the national average. The baseline has gone up, but so has the average. The provision of the goods/services has certainly changed from local small groups or individuals to giant national programs. But the baseline of some food, some clothes, basic shelter, basic medical is probably about what it was 230 years ago.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                In 230 years welfare went from local charity pinned with morality thresholds to state welfare with little to no moral thresholds.

                Also with the formal rise of socialism the problem of the two freedoms has risen.

                Both of these have grown from the same root.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                I ran across an interesting study of the Colonial welfare system many years ago, a result of some historians getting curious about what happened to the poor, unemployed, injured, or unlucky back before we had any kind of organized government programs.

                What they found was a generally well-run and expansive system of care, but all done by church’s and individual actors who would take people in. People whose houses burned down would move in with neighbors while they rebuilt, and injured people would help out as best the could on someone’s farm. People would provide charity because they felt charitable.

                The exception was for winos who couldn’t stop drinking. It was felt that after several failed attempts at reforming them, they should be left face down in a ditch, to find Jesus and either find a way to heal themselves or stay face down.

                They had no tolerance to indulge self-destructive behavior, and would intervene directly to correct such nonsense. Local or state intervention was reserved for the hard cases, such as severe mental illness, violent behavior, and other things that nobody would put up with in their own house. Thus jails and asylums.

                Nobody worried about newcomers showing up and demanding free benefits, because nobody was giving away free benefits, and townsfolk quickly saw through any con jobs because they gossiped like the wind.

                I guess the moral is that if you don’t leave garbage lying around everywhere then nobody has to think about rats or raccoons or bears and the topic just never comes up.

                If the topic does come up, you’ve probably created a food and garbage problem.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              “The founders seemed quite happy with and capable of building a country with open borders.”


              they seemed quite happy with and capable of building a country with no national retirement-savings system, no national healthcare system, and no laws about child labor

              maybe you need to workshop that argument a bit moreReport

              • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

                It makes my point quite nicely. Thank you for further filling it in.

                I don’t think the founders had any special wisdom. If they did, their first try probably would have failed almost instantly. They did work long and hard on the problem, so that work is worth consulting. Demanding that policy today fit perfectly with their thoughts is absurd and ignores 250 years of change and learning.Report

              • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

                Correction… I mean to say “…. their first try probably would NOT have failed almost instantly”Report

          • Avatar Mr.Joe says:

            Most of that additional data collection has moved to the Current Population Survey. It is ongoing and regularly updated. In this day and age, data that updates every 10 years runs out of usefulness pretty quick. The census is hugely expensive, but since it theoretically counts everyone, it can be used to reanchor statistical surveys. Being the only survey that should count everyone, it seems best to get that part as accurate as possible.Report

  9. Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

    Funny how originalist conservatives get all interprety over the meaning of the word “person” when it suits them. It’s almost like the Constitution is a living document!Report

  10. What’s kind of hilarious is that conservatives spent YEARS saying that the long census form was a terrible thing and that the only question anyone should answer is how many people they had in their household.

    How times change.Report

    • Avatar JoeSal says:

      Census is like most any other social construct, able to be weaponized for the greater good.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw says:

      I think it’s ironic that questions regarding citizenship are possibly the only ones that we know that Constitutional drafters expected to be asked, as they were necessary to enforce the 14th Amendment.

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        That looks like an extremely solid Constitutional argument that those who can’t vote don’t count, and thus we must count up how many total people there are, and how many can’t vote (other than criminals), to find out the number of people who can vote and apportion representation accordingly.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw says:

          I think it’s more that following the Civil War, the concept of national citizenship was strengthened in unprecedented ways for the purpose of either providing civil rights to the freedmen or reducing the representational apportionment given to former slave states. It was for Southern states to choose.(*)

          The impetus was that the 13th Amendment eliminated the 3/5ths clause, and thus greatly reduced the apportionment advantage of non-slaveholding states. Republicans were about to see former secessionists gain political control of the country that they had just torn apart, and essentially recreate de facto slave systems. The 14th Amendment guaranteed equal protection of the laws and supplied a consequence of treating former slaves as 0/5ths for apportionment purposes if States did not provide male suffrage to those age 21 and over. The census takers were supposed to ask each person citizenship and suffrage criteria.

          (*) Many Northern states restricted the vote to white males at the time, but most blacks lived in the former slave states. It would apply to them both, but only in proportion.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Yep. However, it seems to make clear that the non-voting adult males still count toward apportionment if they are only prohibited from voting because of rebellion or criminal convictions. Disenfranchisement for failing a literacy test or not being a citizen wouldn’t allow them to count towards apportionment. Minors and women likewise wouldn’t have counted.

            That they included rebellion in the exceptions makes me think that Southerners still had some concerns that Confederate soldiers or officials might not only be barred from voting, but from even counting toward representation in the House or electoral college.

            That idea also comports with the Swiss conception of democracy as a bloodless substitute for a major pike battle by a simple head count of how many pikemen each side could field. Criminals, rebels, and non-Swiss wouldn’t count there, either.

            However, if reasoning on the census via the 14th Amendment is valid, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been used before. Perhaps there’s a prior case that’s being overlooked.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              There was a 1979 case brought by the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, challenging the inclusion of illegal aliens for the purposes of apportionment. The Court ruled that they didn’t have standing because they couldn’t show personal harm that the Court’s actions could redress.Report

            • Avatar PD Shaw says:

              In Lampkin v. Connor (D.C. Cir. 1966), the Court upheld the dismissal of a case brought by citizens in Southern states being deprived of their voting rights and citizens in Northern states being deprived of a favorable apportionment. They wanted an order that the Director of the Census conduct the 1970 census according to the 14th Amendment.

              The lower court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing because the apportionment injury was not particular to them. And even if there was standing, how the census is conducted is entrusted entirely to the political branches (political question doctrine) and the Courts have no role in ordering how the census is conducted.

              The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal because the controversy is not yet ripe, while at the same time the Census Bureau was claiming that it did not have procedures in place to implement the requirement. The case had obviously been brought well enough in advance so procedures could be put in place, but the Courts wouldn’t help.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well, the Court has once again punted on the question.

                I’m inclined to think the 14th Amendment is the controlling text, as the last Constitutional update that addresses the question (of whether adults who can’t vote count toward apportionment). There’s clearly a “why” behind it that no longer completely applies (former slaves), but many of its provisions were reached for reasons that no longer completely apply, in part because its provisions fixed the problems that were being addressed.

                The best way I can think of to try and establish standing is for a state to use the latest census population estimates and the well-established algorithm for apportionment to argue that they will lose a House seat to California or Texas if the Census Bureau fails to conduct a count that comports with the requirements laid out in the 14th Amendment. But even then, it may require a Congressional staffer to argue “I will lose my freakin’ job in DC and end up working at Best Buy in Bloomington! I will be harmed!”Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                Montana had standing to sue when it disputed an unfavorable re-apportionment, plus standing doctrine has become more permissible since the 1960s. So the standing issue is probably surmountable.

                I suspect that my link is incorrect to conclude that asking citizenship questions on the census is *required.* Is is probably more likely that it is *authorized,* and if the political branches don’t want to use this available means for enforcing the 14th Amendment, the Courts won’t make them.

                I just brought this up because I think its ironic that the citizenship question, unlike other questions I expect to be on the short form, actually has a Constitutional imprimatur.Report

  11. Avatar Franklin Blunt says:

    Need end the indulgence of the illegal alien invasion, recognize the refugee & asylum ruses, recognize the misinforming propaganda, recognize the bigotry & discrimination, impose accountability for the fraud & violations, … California, especially San Diego (housing commission & others blatantly provide for those without social security numbers & illegal alien status …), exploits & neglects honorable military veterans & retirees while diverting intending funds amid rampant malfeasance & systemic corruption. Recognize the socio-economic problems (that are not death threats or grave human rights issues), likely personal faults, need resolved among their nations of origin & their own cause for decades.Report