On Tuesday, July 21 Donald trump signed a Memorandum directing the Bureau of census of the United States to exclude undocumented immigrants from the total population, which determines how many seats in Congress each state receives. This is an unprecedented step, which looks like an attempt to preserve the political power of whites, writes The Guardian.
The American civil liberties Union immediately said that it would sue. The administration of the trump, it seems, rests on shaky legal ground — the US Constitution requires that seats in Congress were allocated on the basis of “the total number of people” counted in each state during each ten-year census. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to conduct the census (although since then, Congress has delegated some of these powers and Executive authority).
In recent years, Republicans insist on the exclusion of non-citizens and other persons without voting rights, of the number of voters used to determine the boundaries of electoral districts. In 2015, Thomas Hofeller, the main Republican expert on redistribution, explicitly stated that this change “will be beneficial for Republicans, and white, non-Hispanic”.
In the Memorandum the White house entitled “Exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment after the census of 2020” States that the term “person” in the Constitution really means “inhabitant” and that the President has the discretion to determine what it means. The Memorandum also States that the ability to accommodate illegal immigrants encourages States, which are home to many undocumented immigrants.
“My administration will not support representation in Congress for foreigners who enter or remain in the country illegally, because it would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of governance, the statement says trump. — Just as we do not give political power to people who are here temporarily, we should not give political power to people who shouldn’t even be here.”
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the house of representatives, said the chamber will “vigorously challenge” the order.
“Seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count in 2020, the President violates the Constitution and the rule of law,” the statement said Pelosi.
Interpretation of the White house is likely to be strongly challenged in court. Experts say that the idea of illegal immigration did not exist when the Constitution was drawn up. Early immigration to America was relatively “free and open”. Customs and immigration service of the USA reports that the Federal government began to regulate this issue in the 19th century.
“If that’s the best arguments that they have, they are doomed to failure, said Thomas wolf, an attorney with Center for justice Brennan, which deals with the questions of the census. — It is impossible to circumvent the fundamental order of the Constitution, requiring to count all”.
Wolf suggested that the trump may be trying to create uncertainty or confusion among immigrants who have been afraid to participate in the census.
It is unclear how the administration trump will exclude people who do not have documents from the decennial census, which is carried out right now and does not include questions about citizenship. This decision does not directly affect the daily conduct of the current census, which is already facing serious problems due Covid-19. But will probably cause more headache for officials and supporters, trying to convince Americans that participate in the census is safe. Especially after the administration of the trump unsuccessfully tried to add the citizenship question to the census last year, saying that the data necessary to ensure compliance with the voting rights Act.
The Supreme court is not allowed to add this question, stating that the study “appears to have been invented”. But the lawyers said they continue to face obstacles to convince immigrants that it is possible to trust census, which must keep the information confidential for 72 years. Many families may have mixed immigration status, and the efforts of the administration trump can make these people afraid to participate. The administration instructed Federal agencies to use existing Federal documents to determine citizenship status. The census Bureau also started to collect some records of driver’s licenses.
About 10.5 million illegal immigrants live in the United States, according to Pew research center. In many Republican-friendly States such as Texas, Florida and Georgia, is home to a significant number of illegal immigrants, and the decree trump may adversely affect residents.
“The Constitution requires that the census counted all residents of the United States. President trump can’t choose, ‘ said Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU’s voting rights, which discussed the nationality question in the Supreme court. His last attempt to use the census to attacks on immigrant communities will be held unconstitutional. We’ll see him in court again and win.”
Although Republicans claim that counting the entire population on the basis of electoral districts to dilute the influence of voters eligible to vote, a fundamental part of American democracy for a long time was the fact that elected officials should serve approximately the same number of voters, regardless of whether or not these voters to vote or not.