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LatinoJustice Statement on Donald Trump’s Latest Attempt to Block Immigrants from Being Counted for Federal Apportionment Following  the U.S. Census



July 21st, 2020 

Contact: Elianne Ramos; Chief Communications Officer; [email protected]; 212.739.7513

LatinoJustice Statement on Donald Trump’s Latest Attempt to Block Immigrants from Being Counted for Federal Apportionment Following  the U.S. Census

In response to Donald Trump’s latest attempt to block immigrants from being counted for federal apportionment following the 2020 Census, José Pérez, Deputy General Counsel LatinoJustice PRLDEF issued the following statement:

This executive order is the latest of four years of continuing anti-immigrants attacks from Trump. This executive order is nothing more than an unconstitutional partisan ploy to appease his political base, and his latest attempt to intimidate and confuse immigrants from participating in the Census in an effort to erase undocumented immigrant communities from our country. The President knows that his disastrous tenure will soon be ending and that the only way he can continue to promulgate his anti-immigrant, white supremacist agenda is by trying to change the “rules of the game” and creating conditions that will lead to voter suppression and diminishing congressional representation among Latinos and other immigrant communities. 

The language in the President’s memorandum to Commerce Secretary Ross today provides that states adapting policies to encourage illegal immigration who hobble federal immigration enforcement efforts should not be awarded additional congressional districts clearly demonstrates Trump’s real motivation - to punish so-called “sanctuary states” like New York and California who welcome immigrant non-citizen residents and refuse to cooperate with his racist draconian immigration policies.

Historically, the distribution of congressional seats in apportionment has always been based on total population, regardless of immigration status, which has been repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, most recently in its 2016 Evenwel decision affirming the Fourteenth Amendment’s “one person, one vote” principle that legislative districts should be based on the total number of people who live within them.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Evenwel underscores the importance not only of constitutional precedent and settled practice, but harkens back to what the Framers of both the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment understood: equitable and effective representation means that our elected representatives should serve all people in their constituency – not just those who may be “eligible” to vote.”  Justice Ginsburg’s decision eloquently notes that “Constitutional history shows that, at the time of the founding, the Framers endorsed allocating House seats to States based on total population.” The Court observed that, when debating the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress rejected proposals to allocate House seats to States on the basis of voter population, which Congress found to be inconsistent with the “theory of the Constitution,” noting that the Framers recognized that the use of total-population as a baseline served the principle of representational equality.

At the time of the ruling, Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel for LatinoJustice PRLDEF, said: “In upholding the constitutionality of total population in redistricting, the Court understood clearly that it could not support the creation of a caste system of American politics where only the few speak for the many, and that, as a nation, we cannot allow that to happen." We still wholeheartedly stand by this statement today.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the decennial enumeration of the national population is used to allocate seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to states based on the “whole number of persons in each State.” The process of drawing voting maps for federal congressional districts is known as apportionment. Each state is allocated a share of the 435 congressional seats based upon its total population.