On Tuesday, United States President Donald Trump signed a memo that excludes unauthorized immigrants from being counted when government officials distribute congressional seats. Several civil-rights groups have immediately replied by promising to challenge the move in court.
Exclusion of undocumented immigrants
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Constitution requires the census to be conducted every ten years nationwide. It counts every individual living within the United States, regardless if they are citizens or not.
Data from the census is used in how federal resources are distributed to states and localities across the country as well as how government officials draw congressional districts.
Even non-citizens are counted in planning how to determine to allocate the 435 House seats among the US states. In Trump's new memo, however, is written that the policy of the US excludes unauthorized immigrants from the distribution process.
Several Democratic politicians and other groups have immediately shared their criticisms of Trump's move as being against the Constitution.
The president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center, Elizabeth Wydra, called the stance a blatant unconstitutional move and noted the text in the Constitution was very clear.
Wydra continued to cite that the federal government was required by the Constitution to count every single person living in the US, regardless if they were a citizen or not or if they were born inside the country or internationally.
While Trump has continuously been reaffirming his stance on illegal immigrants, his most recent move directly conflicts with the Constitution. It will most likely be challenged in court, delaying its effect or blocking its passing altogether, as reported by The New York Times.
Stoking the flames
The director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Joshua A. Geltzer, said in an interview that Trump's view is that if he stirs anti-immigrant fervor and loses in court, then he could just as well stoke anti-court fervor as well.
The House Oversight Committee has announced it would be conducting an emergency hearing on the census by next week.
Carolyn Maloney, the chairman of the committee, said that Trump's proposal to exclude unauthorized immigrants in the apportioning process goes against the more than two-centuries-old traditional constitutional understanding.
According to CBS News, In Trump's memo, it was written that current estimates suggest that there are more than 2.2 million illegal immigrants in every state, accounting for more than six percent of each state's entire population.
The data in the memo Trump used seems to refer to California, the state that house the largest community of undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Trump also noted that including the illegal aliens in the count of the state's population could result in more congressional seats being appointed than would otherwise be distributed.
Previously, Trump's administration proposed to include a question on US citizenship in the 2020 census in March 2018. The move, however, which aimed to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was met with widespread criticism and challenges that led to the Supreme Court, eventually causing it to be blocked from being passed.