Trump orders that undocumented immigrants not be counted for apportionment after census

    Demonstrators protest Arizona's new immigration law outside the Arizona Capitol building on April 23, 2010. Protesters said the law will lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses against the Hispanic community. Photo by John Moore | Getty Images
    Demonstrators protest Arizona's new immigration law outside the Arizona Capitol building on April 23, 2010. Protesters said the law will lead to racial profiling and civil rights abuses against the Hispanic community. Photo by John Moore | Getty Images

    President Donald Trump issued an order on Tuesday to exclude undocumented immigrants from the U.S. population count for the purpose of determining representation in Congress.

    The U.S. Constitution requires a census of the “whole number of persons” residing in each state, language that replaced the clause that stated that enslaved people should be counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of apportionment. 

    Excluding undocumented immigrants could dramatically reduce the poitical power of states including California and Texas.

    “Last summer in the Rose Garden, I told the American people that I would not back down in my effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population,” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday. “Today, I am following through on that commitment by directing the Secretary of Commerce to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base following the 2020 census.”

    Last year the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census.

    “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 his 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.”

    Allowing states that are home to large numbers of undocumented immigrants to count them for purposes of representation in Congress undermines the principles of representative democracy, Trump’s order declares. 

    “States adopting policies that encourage illegal aliens to enter this country and that hobble federal efforts to enforce the immigration laws passed by the Congress should not be rewarded with greater representation in the House of Representatives,” the order states.

    Civil liberties groups immediately pledged to take legal action to block the order.

    “The Constitution requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “President Trump can’t pick and choose. 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.”

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine, and opened the Progressive’s office in Washington, DC, during the Clinton Administration, where she made her debut as a political pundit on CNN’s Capital Gang Sunday and Fox News. She moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a year in 2017, where she covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Donald Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on All in with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, and other radio and television programs. In 2011, she did award-winning coverage of the uprising against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Conniff graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal.