A trio of federal judges in the Southern District of New York have blocked President Donald Trump’s latest effort to ban undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 census.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, is one of several challenging Trump’s July memorandum instructing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to collect data on undocumented immigrants in order to exclude them from population totals in the final census count. The ACLU argued that the change could cause some states to lose seats in Congress if undocumented immigrants weren’t included.
The panel of judges found that the president’s memo was unlawful and in violation of “Congress’s delegation of its constitutional responsibility to count the whole number of persons in each State and to apportion members of the House of Representatives among the States according to their respective numbers.”
“This is a huge victory for voting rights and for immigrants‘ rights,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “President Trump has tried and failed yet again to weaponize the census against immigrant communities. The law is clear — every person counts in the census.”
Excluding undocumented immigrants from the census could benefit Republicans electorally. One study found that California could lose two House seats if undocumented immigrants did not get counted. The state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, sued to stop the move in July.
Trump argued in his July executive action that the Constitution doesn’t detail how to define persons in a jurisdiction for census-taking purposes and asserts that the president is the ultimate arbiter who gets to be counted.