Jus­tices to hear case for leav­ing im­mi­grants out of cen­sus

Ex­clud­ing those here il­le­gally could have huge im­pli­ca­tions for Cal­i­for­nia for 10 years.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By David Sav­age

WASH­ING­TON — The Supreme Court said Fri­day it would give Pres­i­dent Trump an­other chance to ex­clude im­mi­grants in the U. S. il­le­gally from the 2020 cen­sus, in a case that tar­gets the po­lit­i­cal power of Cal­i­for­nia and other states with large im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tions.

The jus­tices agreed to hear a spe­cial ar­gu­ment Nov. 30 to de­cide for a sec­ond time whether the cen­sus should con­sider res­i­dents’ ci­ti­zen­ship or im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus. By then, Amy Coney Bar­rett may have been seated as the new ninth jus­tice.

The Con­sti­tu­tion says the once- a- decade cen­sus should count the “whole num­ber of per­sons in each state” and use that data to di­vide up seats in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and al­lo­cate fed­eral funds to states and lo­cal­i­ties.

Through­out U. S. his­tory, that lan­guage has been in­ter­preted to mean that all res­i­dents are counted, re­gard­less of whether they en­tered the coun­try legally.

Last year the high court de­cided in a 5- 4 vote to re­ject the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan to in­clude a ci­ti­zen­ship ques­tion on the cen­sus.

But in late July, Trump an­nounced that it would be the “pol­icy of the United States to ex­clude from the ap­por­tion­ment base aliens who are not in a law­ful im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus … to the max­i­mum ex­tent fea­si­ble.”

“My ad­min­is­tra­tion will not sup­port giv­ing con­gres­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tion to aliens who en­ter or re­main in the coun­try un­law­fully, be­cause do­ing so would cre­ate per­verse in­cen­tives and

un­der­mine our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment,” Trump said in a writ­ten state­ment at the time.

Democrats de­nounced the move as an un­prece­dented ef­fort to shift po­lit­i­cal power from ar­eas with large im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tions to whiter, more ru­ral states.

De­mog­ra­phers es­ti­mate that ex­clud­ing im­mi­grants here il­le­gally from the count could cost Cal­i­for­nia at least one con­gres­sional seat.

Texas would also prob­a­bly lose some rep­re­sen­ta­tion, while states with few im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing Ala

bama and Mon­tana, would prob­a­bly gain.

In ad­di­tion to the re­draw­ing of leg­isla­tive bound­aries ev­ery 10 years, cen­sus fig­ures are also used to dis­trib­ute bil­lions of fed­eral dol­lars among the states.

Demo­cratic at­tor­neys gen­eral in New York and sev­eral other states sued, ar­gu­ing that Trump’s pol­icy vi­o­lated the law and the Con­sti­tu­tion. A three- judge court in New York agreed, block­ing Trump’s move.

But the high court’s jus­tices said they would hear an ap­peal in Trump vs. New York, giv­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion an op­por­tu­nity to re­vive the pol­icy.

Dale Ho, di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­erty Union’s Vot­ing Rights Project, said he ex­pected the high court would again re­ject Trump’s ar­gu­ment.

“Pres­i­dent Trump has re­peat­edly tried — and failed — to weaponize the cen­sus for his at­tacks on im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties,” Ho said. “The Supreme Court re­jected his at­tempt last year and should do so again. The le­gal man­date is clear: Ev­ery sin­gle per­son counts in the cen­sus, and ev­ery sin­gle per­son is rep­re­sented in Congress.”

It is not clear as a prac­ti­cal mat­ter how the cen­sus f ig­ures could be re­vised to ex­clude those who are in the coun­try il­le­gally, be­cause the cen­sus it­self does not ask about ci­ti­zen­ship. The ad­min­is­tra­tion says it is ex­plor­ing op­tions such as us­ing other gov­ern­ment records to de­ter­mine how many peo­ple to ex­clude.

It is also not known what will hap­pen if Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den wins the elec­tion. His ad­min­is­tra­tion would prob­a­bly not ad­here to Trump’s stated pol­icy.

Un­der the law, the pres­i­dent must present state- bystate ap­por­tion­ment fig­ures to the House, but Democrats who con­trol the cham­ber might try to re­ject

Trump’s count if they be­lieve it is im­proper.

Through­out Trump’s pres­i­dency, the White House has tar­geted un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants in gen­eral and Cal­i­for­nia in par­tic­u­lar, and ar­gued that the state’s po­lit­i­cal power in the House and in the elec­toral col­lege is inf lated be­cause of a large pop­u­la­tion of res­i­dents who are here il­le­gally.

Texas Repub­li­cans have also asked for cen­sus data that would al­low them to ex­clude such res­i­dents when they re­draw the elec­toral dis­tricts for the state Leg­is­la­ture. Do­ing so would shift po­lit­i­cal power away from ar­eas such as Hous­ton and the Rio Grande Val­ley and to­ward less Latino, more ru­ral ar­eas of the state.

Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment was the court’s sec­ond this week on the cen­sus. On Tues­day, the jus­tices granted an ap­peal from Trump’s lawyers and said the Com­merce Depart­ment could halt its count­ing and f ield op­er­a­tions this week.

In re­sponse to the pan­demic, the Cen­sus Bureau had said this year that it would con­tinue count­ing un­til the end of Oc­to­ber, but ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials wanted a faster timetable to en­sure the f inal re­sults would be avail­able for Trump to act on them be­fore his cur­rent term ends in Jan­uary.

I N DAL­LAS, Tony Gu­tier­rez As­so­ci­ated Press

vol­un­teers urge res­i­dents to list fam­ily for the cen­sus re­gard­less of their le­gal sta­tus. Texas stands to lose rep­re­sen­ta­tion if im­mi­grants are ex­cluded.

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