Friday, October 23, 2009

Things That Make You Go "Huh?"

Apparently Republicans have decided that people are bored of the health care reform process. Or they've decided that even without their cooperation a health care reform bill which at best will provide only minimum improvements for health care access is going to pass, so it's time to move on to something that interests them more. Or they've decided with mid-term elections coming up in a year, it's time to throw their basest base a little red meat to energize them. Whatever the reason(s), the Republicans have come up with a way to link their two most cherished bogeymen: immigrants and the Census.

From McClatchy DC:

Immigration, an issue placed on the congressional backburner by attempts to revamp the nation's health care system, is percolating again as Republican lawmakers are pushing a measure that would require U.S. Census forms to include a question about the citizenship status of respondents.

An amendment by Sens. David Vitter, R-La, and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, to freeze Census Bureau funds if it doesn't add the citizenship question to more than 425 million forms before the once-a-decade count begins in April has divided Latino groups, as well as some opponents of comprehensive immigration legislation.

Vitter calls his amendment, which he hopes to attach to a Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill, necessary to try to exclude illegal immigrants from the census count so their numbers won't impact on congressional apportionment or legislative redistricting, which is based on population.

"If the current census plan goes ahead, the inclusion of non-citizens towards apportionment will artificially increase the population count in certain states, and that will likely result in the loss of congressional seats for nine other states, including Louisiana," Vitter said last week.
[Emphasis added]

It's a move that Tom Tancredo would be proud of.

Of course, to include any such provision into the Census questionnaire at this late date will cost nearly $10 billion and, just as important, delay the census process itself to the point of making timely redistricting almost impossible.

That doesn't matter to Mr. Vitter and Mr. Bennett.

What does matter is that many immigrants, documented or not, will probably be intimidated enough to duck the process, something the Republicans are counting on. Don't think immigrant rights groups haven't noticed:

"Such a provision has only one outcome in mind,'' said Randolph McGrorty, an immigration attorney with Catholic Charities Legal Services in Miami. "To intimidate immigrants from participating in the census, thereby suppressing the numbers of the count and thwarting the constitutional and legal requirement that every 'person' be counted." [Emphasis added]

That's right: the census counts "persons" not "citizens." But, hey! what's a little semantics among bigots, eh?

The only comfort I take from all of this is that Vitter, Bennett, and the rest of their cronies are doing a great job in cementing the Hispanic vote for Democrats, and that pool of voters grows larger every year.

Such lunacy just might make the GOP a leading candidate for the next Darwin Award.

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