US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a memorandum stating that undocumented immigrants should not be included as part of the next process of apportionment of Representatives following the 2020 census.
The memorandum follows the Presidential order directing the federal government to collect the information needed to ensure that accurate citizenship data is compiled in connection with the census.
“Giving congressional representation and political influence to illegal aliens – people who have blatantly disregarded our laws – would be a perversion of our democratic principles,” the White House said in a statement.
“Allowing illegal aliens to be counted for the purpose of apportionment could also create perverse incentives – such as potentially rewarding states that encourage violations of federal immigration law – that would undermine our system of government,” it read.
The development would allow, as per the statement, one US State, which is home to more than 2.2 million “illegal aliens” – could receive two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated.
Apportionment has never been handled like this, and there are major questions about both the legality and practicality of the memorandum.
Such a move would reduce the representation of states (many of them blue) with higher undocumented populations.
The development also contradicts the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which established federal oversight of election laws in states with a history of racial discrimination.
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) was renewed several times, most recently in 2006 with bipartisan support. But in 2013, the US Supreme Court invalidated federal oversight of elections, a key part of the law designed to keep tabs over states with a history of discriminating against minority voters. However, the Trump administration has been putting up a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and its stated reason was to enforce the VRA.