President Donald Trump’s memorandum Tuesday directing the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to exclude undocumented immigrants from the U.S. Census population count used to determine congressional apportionment was drawing sharp criticism from civil rights groups and Southland Democrats, some of whom said they would fight the order.
Trump said Tuesday’s decision was in line with an executive order he signed last year, in which federal departments and agencies have been collecting citizenship data the president said was needed “to conduct an accurate census and inform responsible decisions about public policy, voting rights, and representation” in Congress.
“Today’s action to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base reflects a better understanding of the Constitution and is consistent with the principles of our representative democracy,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. “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. 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.”
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer promised a legal challenge to the order.
“The fact is that the Constitution requires counting every single person, regardless of immigration status. Because the stakes from the undercount President Trump seeks are so high for LA — precious resources and full political representation hang in the balance — my office joined in stopping him from putting a `citizenship’ question into the 2020 Census,” Feuer said. “We will work to stop him again. President Trump’s latest unconscionable move simply will not stand.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra echoed those sentiments.
“President Trump already lost in the Supreme Court trying to sabotage a complete and accurate census count. This latest attempt is even more flawed and transparent,” Becerra said. ” … The Census is not a toy, Mr. President. We’ll do what we must.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein was similarly defiant.
“The Constitution is clear when it comes to the census — it must count all people for apportionment. The president’s executive order would exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted for apportionment in the 2020 Census. … I will fight against this executive order and continue to work to ensure a fair and accurate census.”
Rep. Judy Chu of Los Angeles tweeted: “This is unconstitutional and harmful to our country. Unconstitutional: The Constitution calls for a count of ALL PERSONS. Clear as crystal. Harmful: Documented or not, immigrants use our roads, schools, and hospitals. Not counting them would deprive communities of funding.”
Rep. Linda Sanchez, who represents parts of southeast Los Angeles County, tweeted: “Imagine if President Trump put this kind of effort into solving the #coronavirus crisis.”
The decision was blasted by Esperanza Guevara, the census program manager for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.
“This ban is par for the course from a Trump administration with only one discourse, hate, and one tactic, chaos. But this country is on to him, and people continue to turn their back on this train wreck of a presidency. We will continue to follow the law and to encourage everyone to participate in the census. We know the benefits, we believe in the process, and Trump can no longer distract us from working to improve our communities.”
Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, called the president’s memorandum “stupid, racist and unconstitutional.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom also issued a statement criticizing the memo.
“Counting every person in our country through the Census is a principle so foundational that it is written into our Constitution, Newsom said. “This latest action by the administration to exclude undocumented immigrants when determining representation in Congress, rooted in racism and xenophobia, is a blatant attack on our institutions and our neighbors.
“In California, we will not back down from our historic work to achieve a fair and accurate Census count. To all Californians, including members of our immigrant communities, know that this is your home, and it is your right to be counted here.”
The deadline for individuals to complete their Census forms is Aug. 14. The forms can be filed online at 2020census.gov.
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