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Column: Illegal Immigration Affects Electoral Votes

This story was written by Daniel Lumetta, The Daily Reveille

Amid lipstick smears and distortions from both presidential candidates, a forgotten issue that was once the biggest concern of this election cycle has largely faded from public consciousness: illegal immigration.

If John McCain really wants to distance himself from Barack Obama in the polls, it will require yet another Maverick flip-flop. His newfound stance on illegal immigration could help rally the conservative base and have a direct impact on this and future elections.

Aside from the burdens posed by illegal immigrants on crime, detention facilities, job security, taxes, wages, social security, medicare, Medicaid, violence, terrorism and drug and human trafficking, illegal aliens are slowly eroding the power of American voters.

Though illegal immigrants dont have an effect on the popular vote, they are changing the electoral vote, and this change benefits Obama.

Hispanic voters historically vote Democratic, and as reported by USA Today in July, Hispanics will become decisive swing votes in future elections.

With the Hispanic population set to double to 30 percent by 2042 because of relatively higher birth rates and immigration and with leaders like Obama and McCain who support amnesty for illegal aliens this traditionally Democratic-leaning population will likely tip future elections in favor of Democrats.

Indeed, the effects of Hispanic voters on this election are already being felt. A Pew Research Center survey showed 66 percent of Hispanics favored Obama to McCains 23 percent.

USA Today reported the Hispanic vote is now large enough to determine outcomes in key battleground states, like Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida.

Familial and cultural ties effectively concentrate legal and illegal immigrants together with ethnically similar foreign-born populations. Though this is not the only factor in the redistribution of seats in the House of Representatives, it is a major contributor. And with 70 percent of the foreign-born population living in just six states, the Center for Immigration Studies expects this rearrangement to continue for decades, resulting in changes to the U.S. House of Representatives and Electoral College.

The distribution of seats in the House is referred to as apportionment, which is based on states total population and includes illegal immigrants. A national census is taken every 10 years to apportion seats in the House, but as CIS reported, the Constitution offers no method for apportionment, nor a method for compiling total population for apportionment. Currently, the resident population includes illegal aliens.

Illegal immigration played a significant role in the redistribution of seats in the past. In 1990, 12 seats were redistributed, and in 2000, 16 seats were redistributed. Louisiana was one of the states adversely affected.

In 2000, four states either lost a seat or didnt gain a seat they otherwise would have, and five states had one seat fewer than it otherwise would have.

Five states actually gained seats because of illegal aliens. Nine redistributed seats went to California alone.

These non-citizens also change the landscape of the electoral map because the Electoral College is based on the size of congressional delegations.

The Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), which twice led unsuccessful campaigns to remove illegal immigrants from the process of apportionment, reported the 2004 election benefitted Kerry with a net gain of two Electoral College votes.

Though the results were insignificant in that particular race, the reapportionment of seats caused by illegal aliens has affected the past two presidentil elections and will continue to do so in the future.

This doesnt mean illegal aliens are the winners. Voters living in high-immigration districts consequently have much more influence than those living in low-immigration districts. Because they play no part in political life, illegals are being exploited to increase the power of voters living in high-immigration districts. This unfairly shifts seats from states all over the country to states mostly found in the Southwest.

CIS contends that reapportionment is a zero-sum game and concludes that excluding illegal immigrants from apportionment is highly unlikely because of opposition from states that benefit politically from illegal immigration.

The only solution appears to be the enforcement of stronger illegal immigration regulations. As far as apportionment reform is concerned, that duty might fall into the hands of the aforementioned swing voters of the future.

A wise man once said, People get the government they deserve.

I say, People deserve the government they tolerate.

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