In a prelude to what will most certainly be a contentious squabble on the issue of illegal immigration later this year in Congress, Senate candidate Marco Rubio has taken direct aim at the political establishment’s dominant view that the census should simply count anyone physically present within the country, as opposed to only counting citizens, for purposes of representation. Not surprisingly, Rubio’s stance has generated wildly indignant caterwauling from the usual suspects in the press. The Palm Beach Post slammed Rubio’s position, claiming that Rubio is “Not Responsible… on the Census.” Over at the Huffington Post, Afton Branche claims that it’s “Rubio vs. Reality” on counting “undocumented immigrants” for census purposes because, “Florida could miss the opportunity to pick up an extra Congressional seat,” referring to his position as a “hard-line stance on illegal immigration.” The mainstream media will always attempt to marginalize or radicalize anyone who breaks with liberal pieties or the Obama administration’s agenda, and here’s yet another example of both their hyperbole and their bias.I have some news for Ms. Branche- Rubio’s position is eminently defensible and responsible. Let’s characterize his position in a different and more honest manner- it is a principled and responsible position that follows the proper understanding of our Constitution; it is a direct affront to the prevailing liberal attitude which waters down the true meanings of “residency” and “citizenship”, and is ultimately based on common sense. The federal government uses the census to determine states’ allocation of money and congressional seats. Rubio’s position states that political apportionment should not be determined by the census count of all people physically present, but only by actual citizens within a state or district.
The fact of the matter is that there are other no countries in the world that have an official policy of counting people within the country illegally for purposes of representation. Such a policy is completely contradictory to the notion of a sovereign nation-state. Should we also count tourists be who happen to be here during the census? What about foreign students studying here? Citizenship status is relevant for many important matters, including eligibility for jury service and voting; and it is properly connected to representation in government as well.
Several Florida Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, State Rep. Esteban Bovo, and Rubio’s Senate Primary opponent Governor Charlie Crist predictably groaned about Rubio’s position, saying that Florida would be deprived of essential federal monies due to a lower census count. For my money, it’s refreshing to hear a politician take a stand against the prevailing business-as-usual mentality that refuses to close off the federal government’s money spigot based on unconscionable deficit spending. Rubio’s stance should be commended, in spite of his campaign’s initial clumsiness in articulating his position. It is rare for a political candidate to effectively poke his thumb in the conventional wisdom’s eye, and we hope that all of the ensuing controversy in the media will effectively restart the public conversation as to what the proper understanding of what the concepts of “citizen” and “resident” really mean.
The Census should only count legal American citizens only as it pertains to political apportionment in Congress, and the Census should properly inquire as to person’s citizenship status. A bloated census count that inflates the representation of some districts by counting non-citizens only serves to dilute the interests, concerns, and representation of legitimate citizens. It appears that Rubio’s intent is not to ignore the existence of non-Americans in our country- on the contrary, we should want to know about their existence. Rubio believes that non-citizens should be denied participation in matters of government that are reserved for members of our body-politic- legal citizens.
Rubio’s bold position is an attempt to drag the Republican Party back to the safe harbor where it belongs- away from politicians that corrupt the political process, believing that their primary role as elected officials is to collect as much taxpayer money as possible for their states and districts rather than to first secure our rights under the Constitution.