Who is my representative?
November 18, 2016 11:13 AM   Subscribe

I live and work in the US on a H-1B visa. I file US taxes as a resident alien. I am not a citizen and therefore cannot vote. In the legal sense, do the senators and representatives in whose state/district I live represent me? And would the answer to this change if I had a green card (i.e. was a permanent resident but still not a citizen)?
posted by caek to Law & Government (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you live an person's covered electorate you are defacto "represented" in congress. The downside is that since you can't vote you don't have an influence on who represents you. However - Resident Aliens do count in census figures which are used to pick the number of representatives in congress. So you do have some impact on your representation. In essence you have the same coverage as anyone who voted for your current representative's opponent.

TLDR; sort of.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:22 AM on November 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

In the legal sense, do the senators and representatives in whose state/district I live represent me?

There isn't really an "in the legal sense" for who represents whom. If you're thinking of constituent services (e.g., complaining about some government office, or requesting a military academy appointment), then offices of the Representative for the district you live in and the Senators from the state you live in would be where you start, but any Congressperson who wants to can raise a fuss on behalf of pretty much anyone.
posted by Etrigan at 11:33 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

When we had questions about the pace of processing for my spouse's change of status (going from a work visa to permanent residency) the constituent services staff at out congresspersons office were happy (well, able) to make inquiries on our behalf.

outside of circumstances where you make specific requests of them, I would hesitate to say that the electeds who represent the district you live in "represent you" in the sense that your inability to vote or donate to their campaigns and they are, subsequently, not really incentivized to act in your best interest as a result.

this last case is the only one where having a greencard changes anything - greencard holders are not considered foreign nationals for the purposes of election donations (still cant vote) so they can contribute to campaigns, though its a stretch to say that your monetary donation would equate to real representation.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:45 AM on November 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

The boundaries for legislative districts are drawn based on total population of an area, not the citizen or voting population. In that sense, every Member of Congress represents roughly around 700,000 people (it can be a big range, especially because people move in the decade between when the lines are redrawn), of any and all immigration statuses. So yes, you count as one person in their district; the elected officials in your district represent you too.
posted by zachlipton at 4:39 PM on November 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you call or write your representative, they don't ask for your citizenship status, they only ask for your address. Feel free to contact them and hold them accountable just like anyone else who lives in the district.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:08 AM on November 19, 2016

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