On the same day Senate hopeful Marco Rubio says he's opposed to counting illegal immigrants in the US census, Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart appeared at a bipartisan Capitol Hill press conference to urge that every person -- illegal or not -- be counted.
Mario Diaz-Balart said he hadn't seen Rubio's comments, but said not counting illegal immigrants -- in Florida and elsewhere -- "would devastate Florida" -- because more than $400 billion in federal dollars are allocated by census figures -- which also determine congressional representation.
"It would be pretty damaging to Florida," Diaz-Balart said. "The reality is, whether you like it or not, there are undocumented, illegal people in the state. Pretending they're not there, not counting them, doesn't make them go away."
The two -- who took back their endorsement of Crist in December but haven't endorsed Rubio -- appeared at a press conference sponsored by Voto Latino, a non-partisan group that promotes civic engagement and unveiled a census outreach campaign that includes a public service announcement featuring Latino stars Rosario Dawson and Wilmer Valderrama.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., said some groups are already fearful that census information will be turned over to the police or immigration officials.
"It's not possible," she said. "There are fines and jail time for people who would improperly share the information."