Trump Barred From Omitting Undocumented Immigrants in Census

President Donald Trump’s policy excluding undocumented immigrants from census data violates the law, a panel of federal judges ruled, blocking it from taking effect.

Three judges in Manhattan on Thursday ruled that Congress hadn’t given the president authority for the policy. The case, brought by several states including New York and advocacy groups, is notable because census results are used to determine representation in the House of Representatives and to allocate federal funds.

“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,” the judges said in an 86-page opinion.

Dale Ho, director of the the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, who argued the case, called the ruling “a huge victory for voting rights and for immigrants’ rights.”

The president “has tried and failed yet again to weaponize the census against immigrant communities,” Ho said in a statement. “The law is clear -- every person counts in the census.”

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the ruling.

On July 21, Trump issued a memorandum setting a U.S. policy excluding undocumented immigrants in the count for purposes of congressional representation. The plaintiffs sued three days later, seeking an order blocking the directive. They said the president was illegally trying to manipulate the count and deprive Democratic-leaning areas with higher immigrant populations of congressional seats.

Cases concerning congressional apportionment require a three-judge panel. In a telephone hearing a week ago, the panel asked questions suggesting skepticism of the administration’s argument that the court lacked jurisdiction over the lawsuit and that the harms the plaintiffs claimed were speculative.

A three-judge panel in California is set to hear arguments over the policy in a separate suit on Oct. 8.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year blocked the administration from adding a citizenship question to the census form.

The case is State of New York v. Trump, 20-cv-05770, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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