President Donald Trump issued a memorandum Tuesday that blocks undocumented immigrants from being counted for apportionment of House representation after the 2020 census.
Trump ordered the ban in a presidential memorandum that he signed Tuesday.
The memorandum has sparked legal challenges as it follows the Department of Commerce losing a Supreme Court case last year where it attempted to include a question about citizenship status on the 2020 census.
Still, the memorandum said that the constitution does not require undocumented immigrants to be counted for the purpose of apportionment of the House of Representatives.
“The discretion delegated to the executive branch to determine who qualifies as an ‘inhabitant’ includes authority to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in lawful immigration status,” the memorandum states. “For the purpose of the reapportionment of Representatives following the 2020 census, its is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status under the Immigration and Nationality Act . . . Excluding these illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of government.”
In particular, the memorandum, points out California as “one State” that “is home to more than 2.2 million illegal aliens, representing more than 6% of the state’s entire population.
“Including these illegal aliens in the population of the State for the purpose of apportionment could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated,” it states.
Lawmakers and advocacy groups called out the memorandum as an attempt to intimidate people from participating in the census, which helps determine where financial resources are distributed, along with apportionment in Congress, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“Trump’s strategy to scare immigrants from taking part in the Census is unlawful; it will not stand in the courts and he knows it,” said Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ campaign arm.
Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Calif., agreed, adding that Trump should be focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Instead of working to stop the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump is putting his energy into undermining the U.S. Census,” Cisneros said. “After the Supreme Court blocked him from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the president is trying to unlawfully sidestep their ruling.”
The American Civil Liberties Union called banning undocumented immigrants from being counted unconstitutional in a statement.
“The constitution requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census,” ACLU’s Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho said in the statement. “President Trump can’t pick and choose. He tried to add a citizenship question to the census and lost in the Supreme Court. His latest attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities will be found unconstitutional. We’ll see him in court, and win, again.”
Soon after the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, Trump issued an executive order to help the Department of Commerce collect citizenship data “by other means,” such as administrative records. At the time that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross attempted to include the citizenship question on the census, the Census Bureau already had found that it had access to determine citizenship status for 90 percent of the population. The order aims to help the Department collect more citizenship data by requiring all agencies to share administrative records with the Department to help them determine citizenship “to the maximum extent permissible under the law.”
“We will collect all of the information we need to conduct an accurate census and to make responsible decisions about public policy, voting rights, and representation in Congress,” Trump said in a statement about the memorandum issued Tuesday.
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