Trump sets to exclude undocumented migrants from US census

Trump sets to exclude undocumented migrants from US census

President Donald Trump is expected to announce an executive order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census count of every person living in the United States. 

This was disclosed on Friday July 17, 2020, by a source familiar with the matter. 

The source who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not disclose further details of the order.

"The exact timing of the order was unclear. It was not expected to be issued on Friday," the source said.

The government’s census count helps in determining where taxpayer money is spent for building public facilities like schools, hospitals and fire departments, as well as calculating states’ apportionment in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Trump administration has long sought to use the census as a vehicle to identify, and possibly limit the political power of, undocumented immigrants. In 2018, the administration said it would ask respondents to the 2020 census whether they were citizens, a move ultimately nixed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

At the time, immigration advocates argued the question would frighten Hispanics and immigrants into abstaining from the census, potentially costing their communities political representation and federal aid dollars that are doled out based on population. 

Republicans close to Trump also wanted citizenship data so that conservative U.S. states could more easily exclude non-citizens when they redraw voting maps in the next round of redistricting, according to documents uncovered here during litigation on the citizenship question.

Trump’s power to limit the counting of immigrants is questionable.

Longstanding Supreme Court precedent has interpreted the U.S. Constitution as requiring that U.S. House districts be based on total population. State-level legislative districts don’t necessarily have to include non-citizens, but they are drawn by states, not the federal government.

A move by Trump to unilaterally change the rules would likely be met with litigation, said Jeffrey Wice, an attorney, census expert and Democratic redistricting adviser.