Federal Court Rules Trump Cannot Exclude Undocumented Immigrants From Census Count


Image via Associated Press

By Araceli Cruz

October 23, 2020

Trump’s mission to change House representative seats violated the constitution and “federal laws governing the census and reapportionment.” 

On Thursday Oct. 23rd, a court ruled that the Trump administration acted unconstitutionally when they requested to gather census data on undocumented immigrants in order to exclude them from the census count.

The California three-judge federal panel ruled that the Trump administration’s request to omit undocumented immigrants from the census count in order to change House representative seats violated the constitution and “federal laws governing the census and reapportionment.” 

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Some undocumented immigrants feared filling out the 2020 Census because they believed President Donald Trump would use their information against them because of his anti-immigrant policies. Their fears were correct. 

In July, Trump issued a memorandum to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census. The memorandum stated, “it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.” But the courts ruled otherwise. 

“The Constitution’s text, drafting history, 230 years of historical practice, and Supreme Court case law all support the conclusion that apportionment must be based on all persons residing in each state, including undocumented immigrants,” the judges wrote in their ruling

The judges sped their final ruling in part because the same issues are already before the nation’s high court in a similar lawsuit led by the state of New York. Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington state filed similar challenges, and a case two years ago in Alabama covers the same legal ground. Civil and immigrants’ rights groups have also sued over the order.

US House of Representatives’ seats are redistributed every ten years based on population changes found in the census.

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Trump had argued that including immigrants in the country illegally in the population count “would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government.”

The White House referred a request for comment to the US Commerce Department, but spokespeople for that agency and the underlying US Census Bureau did not immediately respond.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said a complete and accurate census count “is critical for ensuring Californians are heard in Congress—and that we get the resources we need to protect the health and well-being of our communities.”

The census count guides the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding, so any undercount in California would endanger billions of federal dollars that flow back to the state. It also helps decide how many votes each state has in the Electoral College.

Last year, the US Supreme Court previously blocked the Trump administration’s bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form.

Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court ruled to end the census count earlier than originally anticipated due to the pandemic. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 



CATEGORIES: Immigration | The Census


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