Bill Would Tie Federal Funds to Citizenship

Recently introduced legislation would mandate that federal funding be based only on the number of U.S. citizens in a locality.

Recently introduced legislation would require any federal funds handed out to states and localities to be based on the number of U.S. citizens and legal immigrants only.

Congressman Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Funding Americans First Act (H.R. 5435) shortly after news that the Commerce Department announced plans to reinstate the citizenship status question on the 2020 Census. The bill would direct federal agencies to use the number of U.S. citizens residing in a state or locality, per the U.S. Census Bureau, when determining funding for block grants, categorical grants, or other federal resources.

Messer said in a press release about the bill that there are more than 130 federal programs totaling nearly $690 billion which use Census population data to calculate state and local grant funding levels and that those data currently include illegal immigrants, not just citizens and legal residents.

“I support the Trump administration’s call to add citizenship to the Census. It’s completely appropriate that we know how many citizens reside in our country,” Messer said. “We should also restructure how we allocate federal funding so it’s tied to citizenship. Sanctuary states and cities in California should not receive more funds than Indiana because they harbor illegal immigrants.”

Messer also cited San Jose, CA as an example of a sanctuary city that gets federal funding but also is home to a number of illegal immigrants. “California has roughly the same population as Indianapolis (2 million), yet at least 180,000 of San Jose’s residents are illegal immigrants. San Jose has 66% more illegal immigrants than the entire state of Indiana combined,” read his press release. “No locality should get an illegal immigrant bonus,” he said.

California is one of several states that is suing the federal government over reinstatement of the citizenship status question.

Other lawmakers aren’t as enthusiastic as Messer. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced previously she had introduced legislation to prohibit asking about citizenship status on the census.

Regardless of the accuracy or number of responses to the question, the Census Bureau has a plan in place to verify the data collected by culling through other government data sources to cross check the responses.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.