The memorandum marks the Trump administration’s latest effort to change the way American populations are counted and advance the president’s immigration agenda. And like previous efforts, the issue will end up in court.
“I therefore decided that respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process justified the exclusion of illegal aliens from the dispatch base, to the extent possible and to the maximum extent of the discretionary power of the President. under the law “, order States.
The U.S. Civil Liberties Union plans to challenge the memo, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.
“(Trump’s) latest attempt to militarize the census for an attack on immigrant communities will be ruled unconstitutional. We will see it in court and win again, ”Ho said.
And like the attempt to add the question to the census, the memorandum marks another effort that would likely impact the balance of power in states and the House of Representatives, which are based on the total population.
The note comes as the 2020 U.S. Census is still ongoing. So far, Census.gov reports that 62.2% of the country has responded to the census, which has been going on for months.
The courts will likely have the final say. The Constitution states that representation in Congress is distributed on the basis of “the total number of free people,” and not just those who are US citizens.
“The legal problem is that the 14th Amendment states that the representatives will be distributed among the different states according to their respective numbers, counting the total number of people,” said Joshua Geltzer of the Georgetown University Law Center.
“This means that the seats in the House are distributed according to everyone present in the 50 states, and not just according to those who are legally present,” he said.
Additionally, Geltzer said, the census does not currently ask if anyone has immigrated illegally to the United States. “Presumably, the Trump administration will have to rely on a mishmash of other documents to guess the population it intends to use for dispatch. ”
Michael Li, who is the senior advocate for the Brennan Center Democracy Agenda, asked how the federal government would decide if someone is illegal.
“The Constitution requires everyone to count – children, immigrants, everyone – it has no exclusions based on legal status,” Li said.
This story was updated with additional developments on Tuesday.
CNN’s Catherine Shoichet and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.