Federal judges block Trump census order on undocumented immigrants
Staff Reporter: A three-judge panel in New York is blocking President Donald Trump from excluding undocumented immigrants from the census count for the purpose of congressional reapportionment.
The federal judges ruled Thursday that excluding the immigrants would violate both the 14th Amendment, which requires the number of House seats each state is allotted to be based on “counting the whole number of persons in each State,“ and federal law, which permits the Commerce secretary to include only census figures in his report to the president.
In a July 21 memorandum, Trump instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Census Bureau to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment counts. Because there is no citizenship question on the 2020 census, the bureau is using other sources of data, like state databases, to calculate the number of undocumented immigrants.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the administration, one of several challenging Trump’s memo. The ACLU argued that the change could cause some states to lose seats in Congress if undocumented immigrants weren’t included.
“This is a huge victory for voting rights and for immigrants‘ rights,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “President Trump has tried and failed yet again to weaponize the census against immigrant communities. The law is clear- every person counts in the census.”
Excluding undocumented immigrants from the congressional reapportionment consideration could benefit Republicans electorally. One study found that California could lose two House seats if undocumented immigrants did not get counted. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, sued to stop the move in July.
Trump argued in his July executive action that the Constitution doesn’t detail how to define persons in a jurisdiction for census-taking purposes and asserts that the president is the ultimate arbiter who gets to be considered.