President Trump released a memorandum Tuesday ordering the official 2020 Census count be limited to residents with documentation papers.
According to CNN, the memorandum is the president’s latest attempt to change the way U.S. populations are counted. Like his previous attempts, this one will also be challenged in court.
“I have accordingly determined that respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process warrant the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base, to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the President’s discretion under the law,” the order states.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already announced it will challenge Trump’s memorandum.
“The Constitution requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census. President Trump can’t pick and choose,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project said, in a release. “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.”
Trump has tried more than once to use the census to push his anti-immigration policies. Just last year, he gave up a fight to put a citizenship question on the census, saying he can get the answers he wanted from existing records.
Like his previous attempts to change the census, the memorandum is another effort to disrupt the balance of power in the House of Representatives, which is based on total population and which the Democrats currently hold.
The 2020 census is still taking place. According to Census.gov, 62.2% of Americans have responded to the questionnaire. However, convincing immigrants to contribute to the census has been harder than ever. Trump has continued to threaten immigrants with deportation, which has made undocumented immigrants wary of participating.
Advocacy groups that have spent months and resources boosting census participation said they are ready to fight the administration’s latest effort to influence the count.
Trump will be fighting an uphill battle: his memorandum directly violates the 14th Amendment, which says congressional representation is apportioned based on “the whole Number of free Persons,” not just those who are American citizens.
“The legal problem is that the 14th Amendment says that representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons,” Joshua Geltzer of the Georgetown University Law Center told CNN.
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