The study, conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), claims to offer insight into how immigration reforms during the era of Democratic President Lyndon Johnson affected the distribution of American political power.
“Our findings indicate that, over time, immigration profoundly redistributes political power at the federal level by changing the apportionment of House seats and votes in the Electoral College,” the study’s authors wrote.
CIS analyzed Census data to determine that immigrants, and their U.S.-born children, will redistribute at least 26 House seats after 2020. Of those 26 lost seats, 24 will come from states that voted for President Trump in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, solidly Democratic states — California, New Jersey, and New York — will collectively gain 19 additional seats, CIS said Thursday.
In total, California will have nearly a dozen more seats than it otherwise would have without the presence of immigrants and their children. New York and Texas will each have four additional seats.
The study touches on many conservatives’ claims that Democrats are effectively importing new voters to support them in future elections. In particular, conservative author Ann Coulter has repeatedly argued the Johnson-era reforms significantly altered legal immigration in a way that would benefit the party. Johnson served as president from November 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, until January 1969, when Republican Richard Nixon took office. (Johnson had declined to seek a second term after being elected in 1964.)
CIS similarly said the reforms had a wide-reaching impact.
“Immigration laws were changed significantly in 1965, spurring a new ‘Great Wave’ of immigration as the number of immigrants grew roughly four-and-a-half fold between 1965 and 2019.”
Each state’s electoral vote is composed of the number of seats it holds in the House and Senate, meaning the CIS findings could shed light on the 2022 and 2024 elections as well. Congress will reapportion seats after the U.S. completes the 2020 Census, but that reapportionment won’t take effect until after the 2020 election.
Trump was able to pick up electoral votes in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin — states that will each lose at least one seat, according to CIS. Ohio, perhaps the most-watched state beside Florida, will lose three more seats than it otherwise would have.
Florida, however, would gain three additional seats while New Jersey would gain two and Illinois and Massachusetts will gain one additional seat. Each of those last three supported former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Apportionment is a zero-sum system; by adding more population to some states rather than others, immigration will continue to significantly redistribute political power in Washington,” the study reads.
Just illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children will result in key swing states losing seats as well.
“Illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born minor children will redistribute five seats in 2020, with Ohio, Michigan, Alabama, Minnesota, and West Virginia each losing one seat in 2020 that they otherwise would have had,” the authors wrote. “California and Texas will each have two additional seats, and New York will have one additional seat.”
Republicans also criticized 2020 Democratic candidates for offering public services, like free health care, to illegal immigrants. Democrats typically contend that immigrants boost the U.S. economy, don’t replace domestic labor, and add diversity to the country’s civic culture.
“The impact of immigration on Republican votes in the House is negative when the share of naturalized migrants in the voting population increases,” the National Bureau of Economic Research study concluded.
It added that its results were “consistent with naturalized migrants being less likely to vote for the Republican Party than native voters and with native voters’ political preferences moving towards the Republican Party because of high immigration of non-citizens.”
The CIS favors lower immigration levels and has been called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — an accusation that prompted CIS to sue the SPLC in January.