The Salt Lake Tribune reports on September 23rd, 2009 that U.S. Census Director Robert Groves has criticized Utah U.S. Senator Bob Bennett's "Fairness in Representation Act", saying it comes too late to be applied to the 2010 census. Groves pointed out that it's not practical to make this change a mere six months before the questionnaires are mailed to every household, since many of the forms have already been printed.
As for long term application, Groves was a bit more cryptic. He wouldn't weigh in on whether the idea is a good one or not, saying it is more proper for Congress to discuss how the count should take place. He did note that singling out undocumented immigrants and removing them from the apportionment process would be a change from our history of many decades.
In response to Groves' criticism, Senator Bennett acknowledged that modifying the questionnaire would be a challenge, but said he is committed to working with the Bureau to find some way, such as a second page, to ask the question, if his bill passes. The bill simply directs the Census Bureau to inquire, by means of a checkbox or other such mechanism on the form, whether or not the respondent is an American citizen. Bennett wants to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count used to apportion seats in the U.S. House. "It does not make any sense for congressional seats and the Electoral College to be determined by a process that unfairly provides the advantage to those communities with high illegal populations," Bennett said when he first announced his legislation.
It is sort of an insult for illegals to be counted, yet LDS missionaries domiciled to U.S. states who happen to be serving overseas at the time of a census cannot be counted.
Responses to Utah news stories indicate many are skeptical of Bennett's intentions and motives. Some point out that if this was really important to him, he would have done it earlier when the Census Bureau would have had ample lead time instead of waiting until the last minute after he became embroiled in an unexpectedly tough re-election fight. Thus many view it as a last-minute Hail Mary play from Bennett's immigration playbook.
Other criticism has been directed at Bennett because of his support of the corporate bailouts, his stand on national health care, and even his brief use of the politically radioactive Karl Rove as a campaign cheerleader. The Club for Growth has attacked Bennett once again for his alternative health care bill, the Healthy Americans Act (S.391), characterizing it as a government takeover of health care. Read Bennett's original press release about S.391 HERE. This is truly a bi-partisan bill; of the 14 co-sponsors, eight are Democrats, and one is an "independent" (Joe Lieberman). Access the bill HERE.