'Patently illegal': Trump sued over attempt to erase undocumented immigrants from census

'Patently illegal': Trump sued over attempt to erase undocumented immigrants from census
President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk from the Oval Office to a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

The Trump administration is now facing at least four lawsuits over its unconstitutional attempt to erase undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census. This includes one suit representing a number of immigrant rights organizations that advocate for undocumented communities in Massachusetts and have been working tirelessly to ensure families are represented in the count.

“We have spent countless hours and dollars encouraging our community members to complete Census 2020. With a stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has undermined all of our efforts in a racist attempt to prevent our communities from receiving the representation and resources they need and deserve,” Pastor Dieufort J. Fleurissaint of Haitian-Americans United said in a statement received Daily Kos. “This cannot stand.”

“Undocumented immigrants are now and have always been persons as a matter of fact, law, and basic human decency,” Lawyers for Civil Rights, which is suing on behalf of Massachusetts groups Haitian-Americans United, the Brazilian Worker Center, the Chelsea Collaborative, and Centro Presente, said in the statement. “Nevertheless, the Trump administration has continued to weaponize the census.”

“In a July 21, 2020 presidential memorandum, the Trump administration declared that it would seek the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the congressional apportionment base, the population count used to determine the number of representatives allocated to each state,” Lawyers for Civil Rights continued. But “[l]ike many of the president’s actions and statements on immigration, this latest order is meant largely for the consumption of nativists in his GOP base,” The Washington Post editorial board slammed.

And like many of Trump’s other racist actions, it’s also “patently illegal,” Lawyers for Civil Rights staff attorney Lauren Sampson said. “The fourth sentence of the Constitution makes clear that the decennial census is intended to count and include all persons, not just all citizens.” Another major lawsuit against the administration over the unconstitutional effort is being led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who leads at least 19 states and a number of cities and counties in suing.

“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,” a statement said. “Further, the president’s announcement is clearly intended to promote fear and deter participation in the census by immigrants and their families, as it comes just weeks before enumerators are scheduled to go into the field to encourage households to respond to the census.”

Immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice noted that "Trump doesn’t care that his White House memo on the Census seeking to bar undocumented immigrants from being counted towards apportionment seems guaranteed to lose in coming legal battles. Instead, as Frank Sharry noted yesterday, “Trump only cares about one thing: power.’”

That includes using the power he has now to quintuple down on racism while his administration’s failure to properly respond to the novel coronavirus has left over 150,000 people dead—and counting.

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