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Attack on Census Not New

July 22, 2020 (1 min read)

Hansi Lo Wang, NPR, July 21, 2020

"President Trump released a memorandum Tuesday that calls for an unprecedented change to the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country — the exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from the numbers used to divide up seats in Congress among the states.

The memo instructs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Commerce Department, to include in the legally required report of census results to the president "information permitting the President, to the extent practicable" to leave out the number of immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization from the apportionment count.

But the move by the president, who does not have final authority over the census, is more likely to spur legal challenges and political spectacle in the last months before this year's presidential election than a transformation of the once-a-decade head count, which has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

"The House of Representatives will vigorously contest the President's unconstitutional and unlawful attempt to impair the Census," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a written statement.

... There is a decades-long history of lawsuits going back to the 1980s that tried to get unauthorized immigrants excluded from the apportionment count. The cases, which were led by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an immigration restrictionist group, were ultimately dismissed."