At almost every chance they get, prominent Republican politicians spew a line of anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric they insist is true.
They excoriate illegals for depriving Americans of jobs. Yet experiments carried out at unemployment offices indicate American citizens refuse even to apply for unskilled farm, hotel, restaurant and car-wash jobs that often go to illegals.
They blast illegals for being a burden on state and local budgets, generally refusing even to consider how much illegals pay in taxes on groceries, gasoline, tobacco, liquor, telephone bills, property (through rents), vehicle license fees and many other levies.
All this makes it a considerable irony that illegal immigrants are to a large extent responsible for the increased clout and numbers Republicans expect to enjoy for the next 10 years due to results of last year’s U.S. Census.
Republicans salivate over the fact that Texas will get two additional seats in Congress next year, while California remains stable. Where California has a nonpartisan citizen redistricting commission drawing its new lines, the Texas redistricting will be managed by Republican legislators and GOP Gov. Rick Perry.
The Census shows Texas hosts 1.65 million illegal immigrant residents, enough to account for those new districts. Since they can’t vote, the districts they spurred will probably go to Republicans.
Republican-dominated Georgia gains one new seat in Congress largely because of 425,000 illegal immigrants who weren’t there 10 years earlier. Florida gained a seat, with 825,000 additional illegals. Arizona and Utah each also picked up one seat, with 400,000 more illegals in Arizona.
In all those states, Republicans control both governor’s offices and legislatures, so they will decide where the new lines are drawn and they will see to it the new seats go to the GOP. The same states will also get new clout in the Electoral College for presidential votes.
Those districts account for the major portion of new seats Republicans hope to hand themselves in this year’s reapportionment, and all are at least in good part the product of illegal immigrant populations.
But these GOP gains may turn out to be very temporary, especially since Latino U.S. citizen numbers are also up considerably in the same states. But in states like Texas and Georgia, Hispanics have never voted in anything like the proportions they do in California, where they have lately accounted for about 18percent of the total vote. That still doesn’t nearly match their percentage of the populace, but it’s much higher than Latino turnouts in places like Georgia and Texas, which amount to about 6 percent of the total vote.
“There’s a big distinction between people who live somewhere and the representation they often get,” says Orlando Rodriguez, author of the new book “Vote Thieves: Illegal Immigration, Redistricting and Presidential Elections.” “Those who vote get excess representation compared with those who don’t.”
That’s why, for example, if Latinos were represented in the California congressional delegation in the same proportion as in the population, there would be 13 California Hispanics in Congress. There are seven.
But just as the anti-illegal Proposition 187 galvanized many previous noncitizen Latino legal immigrants to gain citizenship and begin voting, so the anti-illegal measures passed in Arizona and in the works in some other states may also spur a reaction.
If that happens, some of new districts carved out by GOP mapmakers might not stay solidly Republican.
All of which raises an interesting question: Does the one-man, one-vote decision by the U.S. Supreme Court of the 1960s still make sense today, when so much of the U.S. populace (both legal and illegal immigrants) lacks citizenship? Rodriguez suggests it would be fairer and more sensible to reapportion on the basis of the number of persons eligible to vote in the last election or two.
“Our current method of apportionment creates an incentive to encourage illegal immigration (even when publicly railing against it) and polarizes our political system,” Rodriguez said.
The upshot: Republicans may be sitting pretty today, but they could be discomfited considerably by an increase in Latino voter participation. That’s because the GOP has seen what happened when many California Latinos suddenly became interested:
This state switched from a tossup that usually leaned Republican to solidly Democratic. It could also happen elsewhere, even in current Republican strongholds like Texas and Georgia and Arizona.