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Ken Masugi- Columnist

Ken Masugi is the Director of the Claremont Institute's Center for Local Government. Its purpose is to apply the principles of the American Founding to the theory and practice of local government, the cradle of American self-government. Dr. Masugi has extensive experience in government and academia. Following his initial appointment at the Claremont Institute (1982-86), he was a special assistant to then-Chairman Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After his years in Washington, he held visiting university appointments including Olin Distinguished Visiting Professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. Masugi is co-author with Brian Janiskee of both The California Republic: Institutions, Statesmanship, and Policies (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004) and Democracy in California: Politics and Government in the Golden State (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). He is co-editor of six books on political thought, including The Supreme Court and American Constitutionalism with Branford P. Wilson, (Ashbrook Series, 1997); The Ambiguous Legacy of the Enlightenment with William Rusher, (University Press, 1995); The American Founding with J. Jackson Barlow and Leonard W. Levy, (Greenwood Press, 1988). He is the editor of Interpreting Tocqueville's Democracy in America, (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991). [go to Masugi index]

Prop. 77's Immigration Angle
Illegal immigrants distort the value of voters in districts where they live
[Ken Masugi] 11/4/05

Illegal immigration is on the ballot in the Nov. 8 special election.

How so?

Because redistricting reform is the purpose of Proposition 77, and illegal immigration is most assuredly a major cause of the current corrupt formation of political districts.

The illegal-immigrant population decisively affects the way districts are drawn. Political districts, the Supreme Court told us over 40 years ago, must be drawn strictly according to population, which includes all persons, not just voters, and not just citizens.

The result is that in districts whose populations are swelled by illegal immigrants, comparatively fewer voters become responsible for electing their representatives, whether in Sacramento or Congress. An inner-city area that includes illegal immigrants can be compact, easily drivable, and, of course, ethnically homogenous. Population density enables the creation of safe districts for Democrats. Inhabitants don't need to vote to be useful to the Democrats.

Moreover, this trend may increase. Because census numbers result from a head count conducted by a census taker, and many illegal immigrants presumably try to avoid contact with anyone from the government, therefore illegal immigrants are undoubtedly undercounted. It follows that many liberal interest groups favor a different method for counting the population – one of various statistical sampling techniques that would not require an actual headcount. These methodologies may, of course, result in overcounting illegal immigrants.

Why haven't the dogs barked on this aspect of redistricting reform? In fact, both parties benefit in various ways. Population numbers in schools and local government districts buy government dollars, after all. But systematic voter fraud is the subject for a different day, as is the vile Republican assistance in the creation of majority-minority districts. (The ensuing segregation and the diminished need to campaign for Latino votes have done more to hurt Republican attempts to secure Latino votes than support of Prop. 187 more than a decade ago.)

While the Constitution initially appears to be an obstacle to reform of illegal-immigrant inflation in political districts, in fact it facilitates reform and even mandates it.

The Constitution requires that all persons be counted, and illegal immigrants are persons. The notorious illustration of this point was the great American dilemma in which "other persons" – i.e., slaves – were counted as three-fifths of persons, thus increasing the power of the slave states in the House of Representatives. (Counting them as equals of whites would, of course, have inflated the pro-slavery representation even more.) Slavery, the great injustice of American history, foreshadows the injustice of illegal immigration in the formation of political districts.

Once again, in the 21st century, Americans have preferred the wealth brought about by cheap labor, and cheaply acquired ethnic-bloc voters, to adherence to self-government. It required the Civil War for America to address its original sin in choosing wealth and tyranny over the principle of government by consent.

But we Californians today need neither a Civil War nor constitutional amendments to deal with the current injustice. Prop. 77 takes control of redistricting away from the Legislature and gives it to a panel of retired judges, who could boldly form districts to take account of the illegal-immigrant population so that the principle of equality would triumph over political opportunism. Moreover, Congress could pass legislation enforcing the 14th and 15th Amendments, to assure that equality of representation is not violated and that votes are not being diluted by unequal redistricting inflated by illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration is imposing a new three-fifths-clause blotch upon our nation. Illegal immigrants need to count, as slaves should have, as zero persons for purposes of drawing political districts. Let the politicians who defend the current arrangements justify counting illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigration undeniably contributes to the current, corrupt redistricting scheme. Outraged citizens can protest this injustice through a vote for Prop. 77. tOR

Ken Masugi is director of the Claremont Institute's Center for Local Government, and is a contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books. He is the co-author of Democracy in California: Politics and Government in the Golden State.


copyright 2005 Claremont Institute.


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