Trump Seeks to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants from Census in New Memorandum

Statement by UCS Voting Rights Fellow Michael Latner

Published Jul 21, 2020

WASHINGTON (July 21, 2020)—President Donald Trump signed a memorandum today aimed at excluding undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 Census. The action is an unconstitutional attack on the nation’s largest scientific undertaking, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by UCS Voting Rights Fellow Michael Latner:

“The White House memorandum is a blatant attempt to target immigrant communities with the goal of diluting their political power. It has no basis in law and no backing from any scientific experts who work with census data. It is a naked power grab that subverts our most basic constitutional principles.

“President Trump and Republican leaders involved in these efforts want to exclude non-citizens when they redraw voting maps in the next round of redistricting. Their goal is to pack voters of color, who disproportionately vote Democratic, into state legislative and congressional districts that dilute their voting strength while maintaining the veneer of constitutionally protected “equal population” requirements.

“Since the 14th Amendment was ratified, the Census has been required to count the "whole number of persons" without regard to citizenship. The Census Bureau provides a detailed breakdown of who is and isn't counted.

“Last year, President Trump tried but failed to weaponize the Census by including a citizenship question that lacked scientific legitimacy. Federal court records revealed that administration officials gave false congressional testimony about their motives and justification for adding the question, and that GOP redistricting expert Thomas Hofeller had played a direct role in advocating for a Census citizenship question that would provide data needed to implement racially discriminatory gerrymanders using citizen-only redistricting populations.

“The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the proposed citizenship question from the Census because, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross gave a “contrived” explanation for why he was doing it (which ironically claimed better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act).

“Today’s action violates the Constitution and will immediately be challenged in court. The Trump administration may be fully aware of the ultimate futility of its effort, but is more interested in arousing the president’s most ardent supporters and silencing the voices of immigrants.

“We must see it for what it is, yet another racist, nativist attack on our democracy, designed to stir passions and divert attention away from the president’s current policy failures.”