President Donald Trump on Tuesday sought to give American citizens the only voice that matters in determining congressional representation by signing an executive order that excludes illegal immigrants from being counted for the purpose of House apportionment.
The order continues a battle Trump has waged to prevent communities that have attracted large numbers of illegal immigrants — such as sanctuary cities that protect illegal immigrants from potential deportation — from using that population to bolster their voice in Congress.
“Last summer in the Rose Garden, I told the American people that I would not back down in my effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population,” Trump said in a statement. “Today, I am following through on that commitment by directing the Secretary of Commerce to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base following the 2020 census.”
The president said the order protects American citizens.
“There used to be a time when you could proudly declare, ‘I am a citizen of the United States.’ But now, the radical left is trying to erase the existence of this concept and conceal the number of illegal aliens in our country. This is all part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of Americans citizens, and I will not stand for it,” he said.
Trump’s order does not prevent the Census Bureau from counting illegal immigrants along with American citizens for informational purposes, but requires they be weeded out when arriving at population numbers that will be the basis for drawing congressional district lines.
“Today’s action to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base reflects a better understanding of the Constitution and is consistent with the principles of our representative democracy,” Trump said. “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.
“Just as we do not give political power to people who are here temporarily, we should not give political power to people who should not be here at all.”
In the order, Trump argued that he is well within the law, saying: “The Constitution does not specifically define which persons must be included in the apportionment base.”
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Noting that the census can already have the flexibility to count individuals temporarily overseas, Trump’s order said: “The discretion delegated to the executive branch to determine who qualifies as an “inhabitant” includes authority to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.”
The order pointed out that in a 2019 executive order, various federal agencies were required to share information with the Department of Commerce, which oversees the census, to determine the numbers of illegal immigrants living in various communities.
“Excluding these illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of Government. Affording congressional representation, and therefore formal political influence, to States on account of the presence within their borders of aliens who have not followed the steps to secure a lawful immigration status under our laws undermines those principles,” the Tuesday order read.
“States adopting policies that encourage illegal aliens to enter this country and that hobble Federal efforts to enforce the immigration laws passed by the Congress should not be rewarded with greater representation in the House of Representatives.”
Trump then took a jab at California, which hosts multiple communities that have designated themselves as sanctuary cities to protect illegal immigrants.
“Current estimates suggest that one State is home to more than 2.2 million illegal aliens, constituting more than 6 percent of the State’s entire population,” the order said.
“Including these illegal aliens in the population of the State for the purpose of apportionment could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated.”
Trump’s order will face challenges, according to CBS News.
The majority-Democrat House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing next week on the order, and committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York has already called it an “egregious and sinister” attempt to influence the census.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Dale Ho indicated a lawsuit against the order is likely.
“The Constitution requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census. President Trump can’t pick and choose,” Ho said in statement.