Trump Signs Memorandum Excluding Undocumented Immigrants From Census
President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Tuesday that directed the federal government to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in congressional district redraws.
The directive would exclude millions of people from being counted in the United States congressional voting districts that are redrawn next year. It is the latest effort the Trump administration has done to change the way the population in the United States is counted.
The move would directly affect how House seats in each state would be allocated based on the census. It would likely earn Republicans several more seats. A study conducted by the Center for Immigration Studies said excluding immigrants from the count would reduce the number of seats for some states and give more to others.
Banning undocumented immigrants in the census would cause three seats to be redistributed. California, New York, and Texas would likely lose their seats. Ohio, Alabama, and Minnesota would gain one seat each.
In a written statement Trump released after signing the memorandum, he claimed the Census Bureau has been concealing the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. He also said the "radical left" is trying to erode the rights of American citizens, The New York Times reports.
How does the census work?
Every ten years, the Census Bureau counts every person living in the United States. Both American citizens and undocumented immigrants are included in the count.
The data from the bureau determines how federal resources would be distributed across states and localities. It also determines how the congressional district would be drawn. Noncitizens are counted when determining how many of the 435 House seat states could get.
In July 2019, The Wall Street Journal said President Trump abandoned efforts to include a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census. Instead, he signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to collaborate with the Census Bureau to collect citizenship details from U.S. residents.
How did advocacy groups respond to the memorandum?
Dale Ho, a director at one of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) initiatives, said President Trump's memo was unconstitutional. He said the group plans to challenge the order in court.
CASA, an immigrant advocacy group, released a statement where they condemned the order that would effectively ban undocumented immigrants from being included in the Census. The group is expected to file a complaint against the new law.
Michael Li, a senior counsel at Brennan Center's Democracy Program, said the Constitution requires the Census Bureau to count everyone, regardless of age or legal status.
Critics said the Trump administration's latest move would lead to undercounts of even non-American citizens living in the country legally. It could also affect minority residents.
It could also discourage Latinos from complying with the census. Latinos complete the survey at lower rates than people belonging to other races. The move could also result in less representation and federal funding in the areas where most undocumented immigrants and minorities live.
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