Civil liberties groups and a coalition of states, cities and counties filed lawsuits Friday challenging President Trump’s new policy to discount illegal immigrants when the census reports the population for purposes of apportioning congressional districts next year.
The challengers said Mr. Trump is blatantly violating the Constitution by refusing to report the actual count of all people residing in the country, regardless of legal status.
Mr. Trump earlier this week signed a directive telling the Commerce Department that though everyone will be counted, it must try to figure out who among them is not here legally, then slice them out of the official count used to decide how to allocate the 435 seats in Congress among the states.
“No one ceases to be a person because they lack documentation, which is why we filed this lawsuit,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, part of the coalition of states and localities that sued.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution says seats in Congress are apportioned “according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State.”
That, the challengers say, means everyone — including illegal immigrants — counts for purposes of allocating seats.
In addition to the states and localities, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of immigration groups.
“Trump’s outrageous memo is an attempt to erase immigrants,” said Theo Oshiro, deputy director of Make the Road New York.
Experts say it will be difficult to come up with a solid count of how many illegal immigrants are in the country, particularly when it comes to counts for each state.
Estimates for the unauthorized population in the U.S. range from about 10 million up to as many as 20 million.