Court says Trump can't exclude undocumented immigrants from census

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Trump has been trying to remove undocumented immigrants from the decennial population count.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday ruled against Donald Trump's attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census — a move that would likely have cost Democratic states House seats had Trump been successful.

The ruling is the latest blow to Trump's efforts to block undocumented immigrants from the decennial population count.

In June 2019, the Supreme Court blocked Trump from including a citizenship question in the census, which experts said would have led to an undercount of millions of Black and Hispanic people in the United States.

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However, that ruling didn't stop Trump from trying to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census.

In a July 21 memorandum, Trump ordered Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to "exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status," saying that "affording congressional representation, and therefore formal political influence, to States on account of the presence within their borders of aliens who have not followed the steps to secure a lawful immigration status under our laws undermines" democracy.

Democratic attorneys general sued Trump over that memorandum, saying if Trump left off undocumented immigrants, their states would "improperly lose one or more Members in the House of Representatives and one or more corresponding electors in the Electoral College."

The judges sided with the Democratic attorneys general, saying their decision ordering Trump to count undocumented immigrants in the census was "not particularly close or complicated."

"Throughout the Nation's history, the figures used to determine the apportionment of Congress — in the language of the current statutes, the 'total population' and the 'whole number of persons' in each State — have included every person residing in the United States at the time of the census, whether citizen or non-citizen and whether living here with legal status or without," the judges wrote in their opinion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the ruling a "resounding victory for justice, equality and our American Democracy."

"The President's unlawful order was a brazen violation of the rule of law, purpose-built to cause traditionally undercounted communities to be even further underrepresented and left behind," Pelosi said in a statement. "We are pleased that the court unanimously declared that the President’s directive violated the law and blocked this latest Trump attack on our immigrant communities."

This is not the end of Trump's attempts to impact the accuracy of the Census.

Trump is currently trying to end the Census count a month early, which experts say could also lead to an undercounting of minority groups.

On Sept. 5, a federal judge in California issued a temporary restraining order blocking Trump from ending the Census early. A hearing on whether to make that decision permanent will take place on Sept. 17.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.