Donald Trump signs order barring illegal immigrants from census count

Donald Trump signs order barring illegal immigrants from census count

President Trump signed an executive action on Tuesday to prevent illegal immigrants from being counted in the 2020 census, saying the move is needed for “respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process.”

The president said for the purposes of congressional reapportionment, it will be U.S. policy “to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.”

In the memorandum to the Commerce Department, Mr. Trump said the Constitution does not specifically define which people should be counted every 10 years to determine the number of each state’s representatives in the House.

“Determining which persons should be considered ‘inhabitants’ for the purpose of apportionment requires the exercise of judgment,” the president said. “The discretion delegated to the executive branch to determine who qualifies as an ‘inhabitant’ includes authority to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.”

Democrats blasted the move as anti-immigrant. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez called it “an unconstitutional order that has no purpose other than to silence and disempower Latino voices and communities of color.”

Trump wants to strip these communities of their fair share of representation and resources for education, health care, and nutrition assistance,” Mr. Perez said in a statement. “But Democrats will not let this stand. We will keep fighting Trump’s efforts to intimidate and undercount immigrant communities. And we will put an end to the hateful tactics of this administration once and for all on November 3rd when we elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.”

Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said the Constitution “requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census.”

“President Trump can’t pick and choose,” Mr. Ho said. “He tried to add a citizenship question to the census and lost in the Supreme Court. His latest attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities will be found unconstitutional. We’ll see him in court, and win, again.”

The president said he is fulfilling a pledge he made last year “to determine the citizenship status of the United States population.”

“There used to be a time when you could proudly declare, ‘I am a citizen of the United States,’ ” the president said in a statement. “But now, the radical left is trying to erase the existence of this concept and conceal the number of illegal aliens in our country. This is all part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of American citizens, and I will not stand for it.”

He added, “My administration will not support giving congressional representation to aliens who enter or remain in the country unlawfully, because doing so would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government.”

Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the Obama administration, said on Twitter the president’s action is “patently unconstitutional, fear-mongering.” She said the Constitution is clear — “the census must count every single person in our nation regardless of status or background.”

Former Trump acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said on Fox News that the action could affect California’s House delegation by two or three seats. The nation’s most populous state has 53 House members, only six of whom are Republicans.

In 2018, California had an estimated 2.3 million illegal immigrants.

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