The Census Bureau needs the identical Texas driver’s license information to return from the failed voter purge for the variety of residents


The US Census Bureau has asked Texas to turn over driver’s license records as the federal agency works to supplement the 2020 census by counting how many citizens live in the country.

Proponents, however, say these records have already proven to be unreliable indicators of Texas citizenship status during this year’s failed voter purge when former Interim Secretary of State David Whitley falsely accused thousands of naturalized citizens of illegally voting.

They also warn that Latinos, children under the age of 18, and immigrants without citizenship could miss out on adequate political representation if Texas leaders use citizenship numbers instead of the total population to redraw congressional and Senate districts in 2021 – one Idea that President Donald Trump publicly promoted this year for the next 10 years.

The Census Bureau requested the Texas records this month to comply with an executive order signed by Trump in July. His government wants to provide a number of citizens to states so that states can redraw districts based on the number of citizens of voting age, rather than the total population.

Congress districts and state districts are redrawn after each census. The Texas Constitution states that state house districts must be drawn based on total population, but does not address what basis the Senate or state state districts must be redrawn.

Interim Secretary of State David Whitley arrived in Austin for his confirmation hearing in February discussing the backlash related to Texas efforts to get non-citizenship voters on electoral rolls. An inaccurate list of 95,000 voters as possible non-US citizens. (Eric Gay / AP)

The US Constitution provides that seats in the House of Representatives are reassigned to states based on “their number, counting the total number of people in each state.”

The Census Bureau seeks trouble if it is willing to use this flawed Texas driver’s license data, said Joaquin Gonzalez, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

In January, Whitley sent an advisory opinion to the state counties warning them that around 95,000 non-citizens were registered and 58,000 had voted since 1996. Whitley’s office did not consider naturalizations, however, and it was later found that about 25,000 of those voters had become naturalized citizens.

“The voter purge is a great example of why this method is not reliable to use. It is ironic now that they are requesting these records directly, ”Gonzalez said because they were found to be false.

The biggest problem with Texas driver’s license records is that the Texas Department of Public Security will not receive an update on whether someone will obtain citizenship until that person applies for a license renewal, Gonzalez said.

From 2014 to 2017, nearly 233,000 immigrants became naturalized citizens in Texas, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services:

  • 50,552 naturalized in 2017.
  • 63,945 naturalized in 2016.
  • 65,467 naturalized in 2015.
  • And 52,879 naturalized in 2014.

The Census Bureau confirmed that it requested the records from Texas and referred The Dallas Morning News to a statement it released Tuesday confirming that it complies with Trump’s Executive Order.

The office claims having previously requested government administrative records that “include information such as date of birth, address, race, Hispanic origin, and citizenship status for the 2020 census and ongoing surveys from the Census Bureau, including the American community survey.”

The statement went on to say, “Recently the Census Bureau expanded this request to states to include records of the administration of driver’s licenses in connection with the Executive Order to increase the use of administrative records for the 2020 census.”

The office did not respond to a question about voter purge and concerns about the accuracy of driver’s license records.

A Texas Public Security Department spokesman confirmed it had received the request, adding that DPS “is currently considering the request and no action has been taken at this point”.

Who could miss the representation?

Trump’s regulation expressly expresses a desire to collect information on how many voting age citizens live in the country.

That language could exclude legal and unauthorized immigrants and children under the age of 18, said Michael Li, senior lawyer for the Brennan’s Center for Justice’s democracy program.

This would violate one of the fundamental principles of the USA: no taxation without representation.

“Everyone in the state pays taxes. Funding from Texas should give everyone in the state some form of political representation. Even if you’re 16 and can’t choose, you have someone to go to in Austin and ask for changes, ”Li said.

The ten-year census has sought to count everyone living in the US for redistribution purposes since the US ratified the 14th Post-Civil War Amendment in 1868.

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund sued to stop Trump’s executive order in September as it could be discriminatory.

Protesters gathered outside the US Supreme Court as the court heard oral arguments in the Commerce v New York case in Washington on April 23. The case highlights a US citizenship issue that was included in the proposed 2020 US census by the Trump administration.(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

“The problem is that administrative records can be incomplete, inaccurate and partially out of date,” said Thomas A. Saenz, President and Senior Counsel of MALDEF. “The administration has already increased census fears and concerns with its battle over the citizenship issue, so it has already compromised the accuracy of the administrative records.”

Saenz said using these records would reduce political representation by Latinos, non-citizens and children under the age of 18.

An analysis conducted by the Brookings Institute found that Texas was the state with the largest increase in the number of children under the age of 15 from 2010 to 2018. About 50% of the Texan population under the age of 15 are of Spanish descent, the institute also found.

But not all are against the collection of these records to determine the number of citizens.

Rural Texas residents would have a louder voice if states relied on citizenship data to redraw counties, said Logan Churchwell, communications and research director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a group that supported Trump’s push on the census citizenship issue supported the executive order.

He added that the rural populations will be drowned out by the state’s major metropolitan areas like Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston and that when redistribution begins in 2021, the conflict will be geographic rather than racist.

“The dynamic here is not white versus brown or white versus black. It’s going to be rural versus urban versus suburban. It’s hard to give Texas a shape and say this is the way it will go, ”Churchwell said.