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Right-wing media spout “great replacement” conspiracy theory after Senate Democrats reject amendment excluding noncitizens from census count

The overwhelming majority of recent noncitizen population growth has occurred in red states, but right-wing media still insist that Democrats are weaponizing immigration for their own electoral advantage

Right-wing media keep speculating that Democrats want an “open border” to increase population in areas they supposedly control -- and thus their House seats and Electoral College apportionment -- following the party's refusal to support a Republican amendment in the Senate that would exclude noncitizen immigrants from being counted for apportionment in the U.S. census. But data shows that an overwhelming majority of noncitizen population growth has occurred in red states. Their speculation alludes to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, a white nationalist belief that mass migration is being used to decrease the share of white people in the total population, to Democrats’ electoral advantage.  

  • The failure of a Republican amendment to exclude noncitizens from the census angered right-wing media even though it would have likely harmed red states

    • In early March, an amendment proposed by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) was blocked after not receiving support from Senate Democrats. The amendment was tied to the $460 billion partial budget deal that President Joe Biden signed into law on March 7. It proposed that the United States census include a question about citizenship status and exclude noncitizens from the totals used to determine the appointment of representatives and the number of votes in the Electoral College. [CNBC, 3/9/24; WCNC, 1/25/24; Congress.gov, accessed 3/25/24]
    • Noncitizens have been counted in the census since its inception in 1790. The Pew Research Center notes that “the census count includes everyone living in the United States” and is “used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, with states gaining or losing based on population change over the previous decade.” [Pew Research Center, 7/24/20]
    • Data from the Cato Institute shows that since March 2019, 95% of the noncitizen population growth in the United States went to red states. Excluding this growth from apportionment “would have cost Republican states 1.2 million people, or about two seats in Congress.” And according to projects from the Brennan Center for Justice, reapportionment in 2030 “could be among the most profound in the nation’s history” with California losing four seats, New York losing three, Illinois losing two, and Pennsylvania losing one, while “Texas would gain four seats and Florida three seats … placing Texas within striking distance of becoming the largest state, perhaps as early as 2040.” [Cato Institute, 1/24/24; Brennan Center for Justice, 12/19/23]
  • Right-wing media claim that Democrats want an “open border” to boost their House and Electoral College power

    • Fox News host Maria Bartiromo claimed that the Biden administration is allowing “a wide open border” with “illegals coming in and that's changing the markup in the census, and the census, based on those numbers is creating bigger congressional districts for sanctuary city Democrats.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo, 3/17/24]
    • Later in the week, Bartiromo again asserted that “the border is wide open” because counting all U.S. residents “gets more congressional Democrat seats.” Explaining her rationale on her Fox Business show, Bartiromo stated, “The census captures all of the people living in a certain region; if there are more people in Democrat-run sanctuary cities, then they will get more congressional seats. So the congressional Democrats are actually winning on all of this when it comes to the census.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 3/20/243/20/24]
    • Fox contributor Lisa Boothe speculated that Democrats will not impose tighter restrictions on the southern border because “they are using it to shape their power in both the House and the Electoral College.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/19/24]
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham claimed on her show that “for Democrats, unlimited immigration means unlimited political power.” Ingraham alleged that Senate Democrats did not give support to Hagerty’s amendment because noncitizens “could stabilize or even add to the representation” in blue states. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/11/24]
    • Newsmax host Eric Bolling insisted that Democrats are allowing the southern border to be “invaded” because it helps them politically. Bolling falsely claimed that “illegals flock” to Democrat-led states, which nets them “extra congressional seats” and House votes “specifically because illegals are being counted in the census and represented.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 3/22/24]
    • OAN's Dana Alexa claimed that Democrats have an “overreaching strategy to flood this country with illegal aliens to boost their own political power” in a “conquest via democracy.” [OAN, Tipping Point With Kara McKinney, 3/12/24]
    • The Washington Stand published an article alleging that “lumping in illegal immigrants and resident aliens with native-born Americans gives sanctuary states undeserved power” in the census. The article also compared Democrats’ move to continue counting noncitizens in the census to how enslaved people were counted in the census during chattel slavery, giving slave states greater representation. [The Washington Stand, 3/12/24]
    • After Newsmax host Wendy Bell asked right-wing radio host Mary Walter to “tell me the great replacement theory is real without telling me it’s real,” Walter claimed that Democrats are having a “massive rush to bring in bodies because that’s what we count in the census is bodies … so that they could rig the game.” [Newsmax, Wendy Bell Common Sense, 3/9/24]
    • Infowars host Owen Shroyer declared that “the Democrats want all 20 million illegal immigrants ... to become a part of the census so that Illinois and New York and California can get more Electoral College votes so they can find another way to rig elections.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 3/8/24]