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Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are apportioned based on the number of residents of each state. That includes undocumented immigrants, green card holders, and other non-citizens. House Joint Resolution 30, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA4), is a proposed constitutional amendment that would change House apportionment to be based upon citizenship instead of residency.
What the constitutional amendment would do
A 2015 Congressional Research Service report analyzed the effect such a change would produce, using 2013 citizenship figures. Compared to the current numbers, California would lose four House seats, while Texas, Florida, and New York would each lose one. Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia would each gain one seat. The total of 435 seats in the House is fixed by a 1929 law.
The report also adds: “Using citizenship status to apportion the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives tends to benefit states with smaller immigrant populations and cost states with larger immigrant populations.” This is likely the real motivation here, as King has also introduced the Birthright Citizenship Act, which would end the policy of automatic citizenship to anybody born on U.S. soil regardless of parental citizenship.
The bill failed in years past, but the tide may turn under Trump
Rep. Candace Miller (R-MI10), who served until this past year, introduced a similar amendment three times before, in 2005, 2007, and 2009. If cosponsors are any indication, the idea actually became less popular by the year, as the amendment received 37 cosponsors, then 31 cosponsors, and 28 cosponsors. The resolutions proposing the amendment never received a vote in the House Judiciary Committee, and no member of Congress introduced it after that — until this year.
But now has the tide turned? The populist election of President Trump and a newly emboldened and more-conservative Republican congressional majority are resulting in new policies taken against non-citizens such as a Muslim refugee ban and withholding federal funding from sanctuary cities.