The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates an inclusive mathematical formula for apportioning "Representatives . . . among the Several states". It requires a decennial census count of "the whole number of persons in each State" excluding untaxed Native Americans. As the New York Times reports, a push is on, using Christmas-themed posters in Spanish, to urge Hispanics (citizens, legal residents and the undocumented, especially Evangelical Christians) to cooperate with census-takers and be counted when the tally begins in March, 2010. The effort is targeted beyond the Hispanic community, with posters offered in English ("This is How Jesus Was Born") and in four other languages.
Accompanying the posters are materials -- marking the 100th day (Dec. 22) until the start of the census -- that may be "helpful to those preparing readings and announcements, writing stories for church bulletins, or composing remarks for press conferences and other public events." The companion papers cite to the following passage from the Gospel of Luke (Ch. 2):
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first-born, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Constitutional mandate for an all-inclusive census may be undermined, however, by the reluctance of undocumented immigrants (a term now recognized in Supreme Court jurisprudence) to provide information that could lead to their arrest and deportation, as the Times article notes:
[T]he obstacles to an accurate count are significant. Many illegal immigrants are likely to be reluctant to fill out a government form that asks for their names, birthdates and telephone numbers. And the count comes three years into an immigration crackdown that was initiated by President George W. Bush but has continued apace, though less visibly, under President Obama.
So why then did census officials last October say they've declined to ask the Department of Homeland Security "to suspend immigration raids during the census period, reversing a policy from 2000, when an immigration moratorium was observed" (although confirming that DHS and all other government agencies would not receive census-derived identity data)?
Is President Obama fearful of another Reverend Wright episode, this time with critics focusing on faith more than race? Or is it that the President is distancing himself from any possible focus on his Aunt Zeituni whose fate now rests with an immigration judge and the decision at bar whether to order her deported? Perhaps the absence of an immigration raid moratorium is just another path yet untraveled because of holiday distractions over the health care debate.
Since President Obama is already postponing his Hawaiian vacation until the Senates votes on healthcare legislation later today, perhaps -- before he leaves Washington -- this former constitutional law professor will consider a holiday gift to the nation by following the 14th and ordering a suspension of immigration enforcement until after the census is completed.