On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order which would exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted for the census, which means that they will not be counted in congressional districts when district lines are redrawn next year. This could have a big impact on where federal funds are allocated for social programs and also change voting power in certain communities.
“I have accordingly determined that respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process warrant the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base, to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the President’s discretion under the law,” the order states.
The move was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who plans to take Trump to court over the order, has called it a “weaponization” of the census.
“(Trump’s) latest attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities will be found unconstitutional. We’ll see him in court, and win, again,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement, according to CNN.
Ho was referencing previous attempts by the Trump administration to limit the political influence of immigrants, which were rejected by the Supreme Court.
The order has come while the 2020 US census is still taking place, with about 62.2% of the country believed to have responded to the census so far.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, promised to “vigorously contest the President’s unconstitutional and unlawful attempt to impair the Census,” in a written statement to the press.
Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee say they are preparing to hold an emergency hearing about the census next week, according to NPR.
In 2020, every household will receive an invitation to complete the census over the internet, by phone, or by paper.
On March 26, 2018, the US Dept of Commerce announced plans to re-include a citizenship question in the 2020 census questionnaire which has not been included in the short form since 1950. The Census Bureau distributed a “long form” to a sample of households receiving the standard Census form in three Censuses from 1970 to 2000, which included a question on citizenship. There are some people who avoid census takers altogether. Avoiding the census is especially popular among people who don’t trust the government, and this includes illegal immigrants, who have every reason to want to keep details of their lives private.
Last week, the Trump administration backed away from an attempt to require international students to transfer schools or leave the country if their colleges hold classes entirely online this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. The move resulted in hundreds of schools throughout the country filing court challenges against the proposal, saying that it would cause incredible financial losses for the schools and put exchange students at risk.
Another angle that is being reported is the possibility that deporting a large number of citizens could lead to an increased global spread of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent report from CBS News, this is actually already taking place.