Twenty-one attorney generals from around the country have banded together for a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrant populations from factoring into the apportionment of Congressional representation. Recently, Trump issued an executive memo outlining a plan for undocumented populations to be kept out of considerations for how Congressional representation would be apportioned following this year’s census. The memo is brazenly unconstitutional — the Constitution demands that all persons factor into the distribution of Congressional representation. Immigrants are not to be excluded.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the lawsuit over the president’s latest anti-immigrant plan, commented:
‘President Trump’s proclamation is the latest in a long list of anti-immigrant actions and statements he has made since the beginning of his first campaign. It’s another election-year tactic to fire up his base by dehumanizing immigrants and using them as scapegoats for his failures as a leader. No one ceases to be a person because they lack documentation, which is why we filed this lawsuit. Instead of fear mongering, now is the time to be engaging in a robust education and outreach campaign to ensure each person in this country is counted. We beat the president before in court, and we will beat him again.’
James has actually taken the Trump administration to court numerous times, but she’s specifically referring to the fact that her team was victorious in a court case against the president when his team tried to include a question about respondents’ citizenship on the 2020 census. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the proposed question was arbitrarily added to the census plans and thus illegal — there’s administrative procedure that’s legally mandated to be followed when regulatory changes like updates to census questions are implemented. Similarly, in this case, those behind the new lawsuit “argue that the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base violates the Fourteenth Amendment; the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment; the Tenth Amendment; and the Administrative Procedure Act, by being both contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious,” according to a statement from James’s office.
Similarly, the statement adds:
‘The coalition also makes clear, in today’s lawsuit, that public statements and actions by President Trump and his administration have established that the rationale for excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base has always been motivated by racial animus against immigrants of color, and a desire to curb the political power of immigrant communities of color.’
The issue is similar to one that has unfolded in connection to Trump’s long-running attempts to implement restrictions on Muslim travel to the U.S. The Trump administration has claimed that the restrictions are grounded in some kind of legitimate national security concern, but they’re not — before he took office, Trump made clear that he wanted to target Muslims specifically on the basis of their identity. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court allowed him to do so with their upholding of a version of the travel ban in 2018, but if Democrats take control of the federal government in the 2020 elections, they’ll likely throw out the ban in 2021.
Besides James, the new lawsuit against the Trump administration features the backing of the attorney generals from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C.