Executive Order Excluding Undocumented Immigrants from Census Challenged in Court



On July 21st, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Commerce titled “Excluding Illegal Aliens From the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census,” directing the federal government not to count undocumented immigrants in the 2020 Census.


This action follows the Trump Administration’s failed 2018 attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, a move deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts deemed the Administration’s reasoning “contrived” and “a distraction,” and ruled that the citizenship question would produce an inaccurate population count in various states, particularly in California, Texas, New York, and Florida.


Despite the decision, the Trump administration has not backed down from its pursuit of using the Census to restrict immigrants’ rights in the United States.

The executive order has already been challenged in a number of lawsuits, including one filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, challenging its constitutionality and anti-immigrant motivations. Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment states that the total US population holds the basis for our country’s system of representation. The purpose of the Census has never been to count only citizens, but rather the “whole body of people” in order to accurately reflect the needs of communities.


If Trump’s memorandum goes into effect, it will prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving appropriate funding for the next 10 years, and could potentially cost New York two seats in Congress. Immigrant communities need the funds that the Census provides more than ever as they have disproportionately been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Emira Habiby Browne, CIANA’s founder & CEO, expressed concern about the potential impact of the executive order on the immigrant communities that CIANA has served for over 10 years.


“CIANA has been working hard to promote the Census and get everyone counted. This executive order defeats its constitutional purpose, and impedes all the work we’ve been doing to reach immigrant communities and improve the daily lives of our community members, including improving education, healthcare, infrastructure, and more.”


Since January, CIANA has been committed to informing immigrant communities about the importance of the Census and eliminating fears concerning its safety and confidentiality. CIANA is dedicated to making sure every individual is counted, regardless of immigration status, and that communities are funded and represented for the next 10 years.


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