Court Battles

State and local officials sue Trump over census order

Getty Images

A coalition of state and local officials sued President Trump and his administration Friday over an executive action that would exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 census.

The lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that the order “unequivocally” violates the Constitution’s directions for conducting the census.

“If Defendants succeed in excluding undocumented immigrants from apportionment, some Plaintiffs will suffer severe injury to their most basic rights under our Constitution’s representational form of government: they will improperly lose one or more Members in the House of Representatives and one or more corresponding electors in the Electoral College,” the complaint reads.

“And removing undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base will further harm Plaintiffs by, for example, undermining their ability to conduct congressional and state-level redistricting, depriving them of critical federal funding, and eroding the quality of census data on which they rely to perform essential government functions.”

New York was joined by 19 other states, Washington, D.C., and more than a dozen cities and states. The coalition includes Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Trump issued a memorandum Tuesday ordering the Department of Commerce to exclude undocumented immigrants when using census data to apportion the number of congressional districts in each state.

“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,” Trump said. “Just as we do not give political power to people who are here temporarily, we should not give political power to people who should not be here at all.”

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal district court in Manhattan alleges that the order violates the 14th Amendment’s requirement that the number of House seats be apportioned based on “counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

“President Trump’s proclamation is the latest in a long list of anti-immigrant actions and statements he has made since the beginning of his first campaign,” James said in a statement. “It’s another election-year tactic to fire up his base by dehumanizing immigrants and using them as scapegoats for his failures as a leader. No one ceases to be a person because they lack documentation, which is why we filed this lawsuit.”

Tuesday’s order is the administration’s latest attempt to weight census data based on citizenship. Last year, in a case that was also brought by a coalition led by James, the Supreme Court blocked the Commerce Department’s plan to add a citizenship question to the census, ruling that the administration had misrepresented its rationale for the move.
“Both cases stem from defendants’ efforts to exclude immigrants from the decennial census count and to effectively redistribute political power away from jurisdictions that are home to large numbers of immigrant families,” the plaintiffs told the court on Friday.
Updated 5:02 p.m. 
Tags Census memorandum congressional apportionment Donald Trump immigrants Letitia James New York
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video