Democrats Criticize Trump for Ordering Illegal Immigrants Excluded From Census
WASHINGTON – Democrats attacked the president’s plan to exclude illegal immigrants from the 2020 Census during a congressional hearing Wednesday while Republicans said they wanted to prevent foreign influence.
The House Oversight Committee held what it called an “emergency hearing” to respond to a July 21 memorandum from President Donald Trump. It instructs the Commerce Department to list only legal residents in the 10-year count of the U.S. population.
Democrats, including Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, accused Trump of overstepping his authority.
“The president may not choose who is included in the Census count,” said Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee.
Authorization for the Census comes from Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which says, “Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states… according to their respective numbers.”
The Democrats said Trump’s order to exclude illegal immigrants appears to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which requires that U.S. laws be enforced equally without favoritism.
They predicted Trump will be challenged soon in lawsuits.
“The president’s memo does, I believe, violate the Constitution,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif.
He added, “The country is getting more diverse, no matter whether we throw up roadblocks, no matter what we do.”
The Census is used to determine voting districts for state and federal elected officials. It also determines how states and the federal government allocate tax money.
Trump’s memo says, “Increasing congressional representation based on the presence of aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status would also create perverse incentives encouraging violations of federal law.”
It said states that fail to cooperate in enforcing immigration laws “should not be rewarded with greater representation in the House of Representatives.”
Advocacy groups that previously opposed Trump’s immigration policies announced this week they are preparing legal action against the president’s Census order. They included the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee largely agreed with the memo.
“How is that not foreign influence,” Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., said about the idea of illegal immigrants being counted in the Census.
Popular opinion polls show the immigrants typically favor Democrats.
Green said, “The Democrats are simply grabbing power at the expense of the American people again.”
Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., said, “If someone is here illegally, they should not be represented in the United States Congress.”
The current head of the U.S. Census Bureau declined to take a position in favor or against the president’s policy during the congressional hearing.
“I am not in a position where I can express my opinions with regard to policy,” said Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham. “My job as the census bureau director will be to execute the 2020 Census.”
He said he did not know of any Census Bureau personnel who encouraged Trump’s order to exclude illegal immigrants.
“Our mission right now is to complete an accurate count,” Dillingham said.