New York suing Trump gov't over excluding undocumenteds from Census
Photo provided on July 21, 2020, by the White House showing President Donald Trump in the Oval Office signing a memorandum denying undocumented foreigners the right to be counted in the US Census, a move already being challenged by New York state and a coalition of 23 other states. EFE-EPA/Joyce N. Boghosian/White House
New York, Jul 21 (efe-epa).- New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that she is filing suit against the Donald Trump administration after the president signed a memorandum excluding undocumented immigrants from being counted in the Census, a move that has implications for various states' representation in Congress.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Manhattan Federal Court by James's office and a coalition of 23 states.
"No one ceases to be a person because they lack documentation," James said. "Under the law, every person residing in the US during the census, regardless of status, must be counted," adding that the Trump administration was only making the move to try and change the balance of power in Congress.
Trump's decision was made known earlier on Tuesday in a memo released by the White House and signed by the president himself as the Census is still under way, a process that will conclude its interview phase in October.
The decision could open a legal battle around the Census, which has already been the target of partisan disputes after the Trump administration last year tried to include a controversial question about citizenship on the tally each decade of any and all people living in the US.
The government backpedaled on its plan to include that citizenship question after the Supreme Court ruled that the question could not be posed, asserting that the administration did not provide an adequate reason for including it.
In the Tuesday memorandum, the administration says that to allocate congresspeople to the states, the Constitution requires that a tally be made of US residents every 10 years.
"There used to be a time when you could proudly declare, 'I am a citizen of the United States.' But now, the radical left is trying to erase the existence of this concept and conceal the number of illegal aliens in our country," Trump said in a statement.
"This is all part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of Americans citizens, and I will not stand for it," he added.
Trump said that including undocumented foreigners in the Census count "would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government."
The number of seats allocated to each state in House of Representatives is recalculated every 10 years based on changes in population as determined by the Census.
Trump said in his memo that the word "persons ... has never been understood to include ... every individual physically present within a state's boundaries."
"Including these illegal aliens in the population of the state for the purpose of apportionment could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated," read the memo.
Democratic members of Congress called the president's memo an effort to depress participation in the 2020 census, especially in minority communities.
"Trump's unlawful effort is designed to again inject fear and distrust into vulnerable and traditionally undercounted communities, while sowing chaos with the Census," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"The House of Representatives will vigorously contest the President's unconstitutional and unlawful attempt to impair the Census," she added.
The latest figures from the Homeland Security Department estimated that some 12 million undocumented immigrants currently live on US territory.