Trump Signs Order Excluding Illegal Aliens From Census Numbers Used for Congressional Districts

July 21, 2020 Updated: July 21, 2020

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on July 21 ordering the U.S. government to exclude illegal aliens from the calculations used to apportion congressional seats, based on the population survey conducted during the 2020 Census.

After the Supreme Court rejected the White House’s bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, Trump ordered all federal agencies to share information with the Department of Commerce (DOC) so that it could make an appropriate determination on the number of citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens in the United States.

“Excluding these illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of government,” the memo states.

“Affording congressional representation, and therefore formal political influence, to states on account of the presence within their borders of aliens who have not followed the steps to secure a lawful immigration status under our laws undermines those principles.”

A number of states have enacted so-called sanctuary laws to shield illegal aliens from capture by federal authorities. The memo notes that states that thwart the enforcement of federal laws should not be rewarded with increased representation in Congress. According to the memo, one state has an estimated 2.2 million illegal aliens, who, if counted in the apportionment, would give the state two or three additional congressional seats.

The results of the decennial census are used to determine the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives and the distribution of federal aid, among other matters. Once the DOC completes its apportionment calculations, the president transmits the final determination to Congress. 

The president’s memo cites a Supreme Court opinion that determined that it is “the President’s personal transmittal of the report to Congress” that “settles the apportionment” of representatives among the states, and the president’s discretion to settle the apportionment is more than “ceremonial or ministerial” and is essential “to the integrity of the process.”

“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,” the president said in a 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.”

The Constitution doesn’t specify which people in a given state should be counted in the census. The memo notes that prior administrations have used discretion to determine who should be counted. For example, overseas military and federal personnel have at times been included or excluded from the apportionment base.

The memo is certain to face legal challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a far-left advocacy group, vowed to challenge the policy in court. 

“His latest attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities WILL be found unconstitutional,” ACLU wrote on Twitter. “We’ll see him in court—and win—again.”

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