The city of San Jose and Mayor Sam Liccardo filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Trump administration for a recent memorandum that aims to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census for the purpose of congressional redistricting.
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, also lists Black Alliance for Just Immigration, King County in Washington, Arlington County in Virginia, Zerihoun Yilma and Lovette Kargbo-Thompson as plaintiffs.
The group alleges that President Donald Trump’s actions violate the Census Act, the Enumeration Clause of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
President Trump's order is an ILLEGAL attempt to deny that millions of Californians are ‘persons’ under the US Constitution. I joined local leaders & Black Alliance for Just Immigration (@BAJItweet) to STOP him from excluding undocumented immigrants in the #2020Census.
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) July 31, 2020
On July 21, Trump released an order to direct Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to not include undocumented immigrants when completing congressional redistricting after the 2020 census.“Although the Constitution requires the ‘persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed,’ to be enumerated in the census, that requirement has never been understood to include in the apportionment base every individual physically present within a State’s boundaries at the time of the census,” the order states. “Instead, the term ‘persons in each State’ has been interpreted to mean that only the ‘inhabitants’ of each State should be included. Determining which persons should be considered ‘inhabitants’ for the purpose of apportionment requires the exercise of judgment.”
The president argued that excluding undocumented immigrants “is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of Government.”
But in the lawsuit, plaintiffs contend that regardless of status, undocumented people have “never before been deemed non-persons under the Constitution.”
“In San Jose, and under the U.S. Constitution, everyone counts,” Liccardo said in a statement Friday. “The explicit promise of the 14th Amendment that apportionment rely upon the ‘counting of the whole number of persons in each State’ does not countenance or allow the disregard of any one ‘person,’ as the White House seeks.”
“It is astounding that 132 years after we wiped the abhorrent ‘three-fifths’ clause from Article I of our U.S. Constitution, and as our nation yearns for racial equity, we have a Presidential Administration seeking to return to the days prior to the passage of the 14th Amendment,” Liccardo added.
Kristen Clarke, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who represents the plaintiffs, said Trump’s order discriminates against people based on race, ethnicity and national origin. “This latest move by the administration is part of an ongoing effort to silence and erase people of color during one of the most consequential moments in the democratic process,” she said.
This isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has attempted to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census. Last June, the Supreme Court blocked the administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
“This memorandum tries to persuade undocumented individuals, their families, and their communities not to take the census by stoking fear and confusion,” Santa Clara County Deputy County Executive David Campos said earlier this week. “The facts are that the Census will not ask anyone about their immigration status, and that any information the Censuscollects is private and confidential.”
County officials say that 30 percent of residents have yet to complete the census. The Federal Census Bureau will begin in-person interviews on Aug. 11. If you haven’t filled out the questionnaire, you can do so at my2020census.gov or by calling 844.330.2020.