NY, NJ AG suing Trump for 'illegally seeking to exclude' undocumented immigrants counted in census

Kimberly Dole
July 24, 2020 - 4:11 pm

Getty Images, USATSI


NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday announced that she is suing President Donald Trump for "illegally seeking to exclude" undocumented migrants "from congressional apportionment" in the 2020 census.

"We beat the president before in court, and we will beat him again," James posted on Twitter.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal later announced the state joined a coalition lawsuit to challenge a Memorandum issued by President Trump earlier in the week that would for the first time exclude undocumented immigrants counted in the census from state population totals used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, in disregard of an unambiguous constitutional demand.

The U.S. Constitution requires an “actual Enumeration” of the entire population every ten years, and the 2020 census count is taking place now. The Fourteenth Amendment more specifically requires that elected Representatives be apportioned among the states based on the "whole number of persons" living in each state, a statement from Gurbir said.

The suit alleges the Memorandum would cause some states to lose congressional seats and decrease their share of electors in the Electoral College, impair State and local redistricting efforts that rely on the census count, and reduce federal funding allocated to states by discouraging immigrants from responding to the 2020 census.

The complaint also argues the President’s decision "is motivated by discriminatory animus toward Hispanics and immigrant communities of color" and will also degrade the overall accuracy of the census data.

Undocumented immigrants are "persons," so the "whole number of persons" counted for purposes of apportionment of House seats has always included immigrants, whether documented or not, the statement added.

"Until this week, no President has denied that the undocumented immigrants who live in our communities are 'persons' who must be counted in determining States' representation in Congress," Grewal said. "The President’s plainly illegal action not only dehumanizes members of our community but also seeks to punish states like New Jersey with larger immigrant populations. In New Jersey, everybody counts. We have defeated this President’s efforts to undermine that fundamental principle before, and we will do so again."

The Secretary of Commerce is scheduled to report state population totals from the census to the President by January 1, 2021.

The state population totals are used to determine how the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned among the 50 states, as well as how many votes are allocated to each state in the Electoral College.

The Secretary of Commerce in 2018 announced that the 2020 census would include a citizenship question, a decision challenged by New Jersey.

Attorneys General from other states including Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia have also joined the lawsuit.