Courts Immigration Politics

Federal Court Blocks Trump Order Prohibiting Census from Counting Undocumented Immigrants

Yesterday, a three-judge panel in New York ruled unanimously that President Trump’s executive order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count was unlawful. 

The President’s July memo stated that undocumented immigrants should not count for purposes of deciding the reapportionment of the House. The court’s decision mandates that his order violates the 14th Amendment as well as federal laws about how congressional seats are allocated, and acknowledges that the harm that the order would cause would last a decade. 

Trump’s order directed Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to provide the president with two counts– one of the whole population, and one excluding undocumented immigrants.

The court ruled that those in the country illegally qualify as people to be counted in the states they reside, writing, “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.”

Dozens of cities, counties, states, and organizations representing marginalized communities challenged Trump’s memorandum. 

Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement that “this is a huge victory for voting rights and for immigrants‘ rights. 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.”

Sources: New York Times 09/10/20; State of New York 09/10/20; Politico 09/10/20; White House 07/21/20