WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order excluding illegal immigrants from being counted in the 2020 United States census.
Since the first census in the 1970s, both US citizens and non-citizens have been included in the country’s official population count, regardless of their immigration status, as part of a process which determines federal funding and how many seats each state gets in Congress.
But Trump’s order, which had been anticipated for weeks, is the latest salvo in his administration’s ongoing battle with the Census Bureau.
The president last year failed in his bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census after the moved was blocked by the Supreme Court.
“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,” Trump wrote in Tuesday’s brief but strongly-worded memo.
“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,” he continued.
The memo directs Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment count but it is unclear how Ross would make that distinction when the citizenship question is prohibited.
New York and Ohio lost two members of the House of Representatives after the 2010 census, while Texas picked up four.
The order will likely be met with legal challenges from Democrats and legal professors who are already calling the move unconstitutional.
“The Constitution says count “persons” not citizens,” University of Alabama law professor Joyce Alene wrote on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.
“His unconstitutional EO today, directing a count of only citizens is red meat for his base & an effort to distract from Covid & his other disasters,” he continued.
The state of Alabama is currently in the throes of a legal battle with the Census Bureau arguing illegal immigrants be excluded from population counts because it supposedly gives an unfair advantage to states with more undocumented residents.
According to a Washington Post report from August 2019, states such as New Jersey and California could lose up to two seats in Congress if undocumented immigrants were excluded from the census count.