[Marxism] On the census: What have they been smoking!?

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Wed Apr 1 18:09:38 MDT 2009

>From the online Immigration Daily

"Government Executive reports that the census officials are trying to win
the trust of immigrant communities so that they will succeed in getting an
accurate count of the US population in next year's census. 'With a year to
go until Census Day, earning the trust of historically undercounted
communities remains a key challenge for decennial headcounters, census
officials and lawmakers said on Monday. In a kickoff event for 'census
partnership' organizations ranging from the NAACP to the Target Corp. retail
chain, leaders of the 2010 effort stressed the need to demystify the census
among hard-to-reach populations that may be reluctant to offer personal
information to government workers.'"

*  *  *

Like anyone in the Latino community is going to trust government agents
wanting to know who everyone is and where they live. 

By my guesstimate, based on more reliable statistics like children born to
Latino mothers, the undercount of Latinos in Georgia in the partial
between-census surveys was running about 50% in the mid-90's, before things
got REALLY bad in the last years of the Bush regime. 

The way you could tell there was an undercount is that the fertility rate
for Latino women in Georgia was sky-high, as much as double that in other
states, and suggesting AN AVERAGE of 5-6 children per mother, when the
reality is 2-3. Other states where the Latino population boomed from the
mid-90's on present similar statistics, since most of the population there
are also recent undocumented immigrants. What this shows is that the number
of Latino women of child bearing age in these states used in calculating the
statistics of how many children Latino women have is way too low. That
figure comes from the census bureau and its household surveys, essentially
the same outreach technique as will be deployed for the census, except then
they will try to contact EVERY household, and not just a random sample. 

This means that under CURRENT conditions, an accurate census in the United
States is not possible, will be viciously discriminatory against the Latino
community, and therefore all working class and progressive forces should
boycott the census. Either the government creates the conditions for an
accurate nose count, or everyone should tell the census officials that if
they want to know the population, they should look it up on wikipedia. That
figure may well be as inaccurate and random as the one the census bureau
would come up with, but certainly no worse. 

*  *  *

For there to be an honest, accurate census as required by the constitution
there has to be --FIRST!-- a complete and unconditional legalization of all
those to be counted. There are no promises, guarantees or safeguards the
government could possibly adopt that would change this. 

The reason for this is simple. For decades the undocumented were told
immigration was strictly a federal --not state and local-- and civil --not
criminal-- matter. But in the last few years they've transformed local cops
into junior auxiliaries of the immigration gestapo and people are being
thrown and kept in jail for many months and even a year or more for being

This incarceration is an outrageous violation of due process of law, since
no charges have even been filed usually, no trial held, no trial by jury
offered, no assistance of a competent attorney provided. And even when
formal violations like illegal entry are proffered, the entire process is a
mockery of justice where the rights of the accused are to all intents and
purposes toilet paper.

But mostly arrested immigrants are "merely" being held pending deportation.
But it makes the mere ABSENCE of proof that someone is here legally into a
de-facto conviction carrying a sentence of up to a year in prison, and in
some cases more. With la migra and the local pigs as judges, jurors and

*  *  *

The Constitution does not require legalization as a condition for the census
quite simply because the constitution does not authorize the federal
government to make ANYONE "illegal." The U.S. government has no
*CONSTITUTIONAL*  power to decide who can live in the country -- only who
can become citizens -- and for a CENTURY following the founding of the
Republic, made no pretense that it had such powers.

This was not an oversight. The issue of whether the federal government
should be empowered to banish people from the United States was raised at
the time the constitution was drafted, but it is not included among the
enumerated powers of the federal government. There are two provisions
concerning the general area of immigration, both in the section enumerating
the powers of the Congress:

"To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the
subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;" and another one
denying Congress the right to prohibit "the importation of ... persons"
until 1808, which, as the word "importation" suggests, deals SOLELY with the
slave trade and was explicitly understood as such at the time. The
slaveholders insisted on safeguards and compromised with this 20-year rule
because the constitution gave the federal government full jurisdiction over
foreign TRADE, not immigration.

The idea that the government could decide individually in each and every
case who could or could not reside in this country --or any other country of
substantial size-- had not yet been adopted by the politicians, and in the
United States would not be for a century. What was traditionally reserved to
governments was the power to decide that  X, Y or Z individual had to leave
the country. That's why from Marx's time we hear about banishments from this
or that place, but people like Marx and Engels never had to go apply for
residence nor anything else like that. And that is what is NOT included in
the U.S. constitution.

A century later, when racists in Congress passed the Chinese exclusion act,
the robed reactionaries of the ruling rich on the Supreme Court ruled that
it was OK, since controlling immigration was traditionally a power inherent
to any sovereign. This was actually not true: the power to banish was
traditional, but immigration was largely unrestricted (although some
jurisdictions, especially cities, did have their own residency rules).

>From the point of view of what in Spanish is called "derecho," which is not
just law but the philosophy behind it, the decision was ridiculous, absurd
because in the United States, the federal government is not "the sovereign."
In fact, just reading the opening words of the Constitution is sufficient to
refute that idea.

The constitution starts "We the people ...", because in the bourgeois
constitutional ideology of the founding fathers, THE PEOPLE were the
sovereign (by "PEOPLE" of course understanding whites of the male persuasion
with substantial property). "The People" --the sovereign-- got together and
created a federal government and gave it certain powers, and ONLY those
powers, not others, saying explicitly, in  so many big words, that all OTHER
powers were reserved to the individual states or the people. 

And THIS was not only the theory, but the practice, too. Various states
adopted incentives/disincentives for immigrants for example in Minnesota you
could vote and run for office in 6 months, and New Jersey used to even have
German as an official language. 

The Supremes took the constitutional permission "to establish a uniform rule
for nationalization," for becoming a CITIZEN, and turned it into an
anything-goes immigration carte blanche for the federal government. So the
usual rules don't apply. Discrimination on the basis of race or nationality
--explicitly prohibited by the post-civil-war constitutional amendments--,
is okay in immigration law. Due Process doesn't apply, and in some cases,
you can even enter the country and be here for months or years and have no
right to be heard in court because you're in immigration limbo, not
technically "in" the United States but only "at" the port of entry, in
theory being "inspected" to see whether you qualify for entry or not. 

This completely arbitrary legal regime is supposedly based on the
congressional power of establishing "a uniform rule for nationalization."
The Supremes say this means anything goes. But that phrase is in the SAME
SENTENCE, even shares the verbal construct "to establish" with "uniform laws
on the subject of bankruptcies," and if the Supremes had tried to authorize
an "anything goes" bankruptcy regime, without regard to property rights, due
process, the right to be heard in court and so on, the bourgeoisie would
have LYNCHED the honorable justices. 

*  *  *

This *dictatorial* regime towards immigrants is WHY nothing less than full
and unconditional legalization will do. And I mean "dictatorial" in its
strictly *technical* meaning of government unrestrained by pre-existing law.
Congress and the Census may PROMISE that census data won't be used for
immigration enforcement. But the day AFTER the census finishes, Congress can
take its promise, wipe its collective ass with it, and put the census data
for anyone suspected of being Latino or foreign born on the internet with
rewards for bounty hunters who capture socalled illegals. 

And Latino organizations and individuals who take government/corporate money
to pimp for and promote the census in our communities should remember that
the last guy to do this got 30 pieces of silver, and think about Judas's


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