San Jose, mayor sue Trump over Census policy that excludes undocumented immigrants
The U.S. Census bureau has made a variety of changes to its plans in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Adam F. Hutton.

The city of San Jose filed a lawsuit Monday night against the Trump administration over a memorandum that aims to ban undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 Census.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is among several lawsuits over the president’s Census policy. King County, WA, Arlington County, VA, Black Alliance for Just Immigration and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also joined the complaint as plaintiffs.

“This blatantly racist decree from the president cannot go without a strong and fervent challenge from those who seek to sustain our nation’s Constitutional protections,” Liccardo said.

The lawsuit argues that President Donald Trump’s new policy “violates the Constitution and the Census Act, and it discriminated against people based on race, ethnicity, and national origin in the violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.”

The memorandum, released on July 21, could exclude more than 2 millions undocumented immigrants in California and more than 180,000 in Santa Clara County, potentially leading to loss of funding and a congressional seat, according to Pew Research Center estimation.

Trump’s memorandum represents an unprecedented change to Census counts used for determining seats in Congress. The administration argued that the Constitution does not define “which persons must be included in the apportionment base” and the executive branch gets to interpret who would qualify as inhabitant.

It also claimed that including unauthorized immigrants “could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats.”

The lawsuit claims that the Constitution requires counting “the whole number of persons in each State,” and every Census since 1790 has counted all residents regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Trump’s order last week would contradict “a consistent practice” of more than two centuries.

“(The order) is motivated by an intent to discriminate against these ethnic and racial minorities,” the complaint reads, further claiming that the president “wants to punish (states) like California and Washington” for adopting policies that encourage undocumented immigrants to reside in the country.

The complaint also claims that the order will discourage undocumented immigrants, who fear of retaliation from the government, from responding to the census.

The state of California, joined by the Los Angeles Unified School District and the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland, also filed a federal lawsuit against the administration over the memorandum this week.

The complaint, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, says the administration’s latest Census policy came after its failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Three other federal lawsuits over the memorandum were also filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week. More than two dozen states and local governments joined a complaint led by the state of New York.

As of this week, the Census national response rate hovers over 62%, as some of 500,000 door-knockers started heading out to neighborhoods with low response rates. The Census Bureau announced this week it will cut its field data collection short by one month — from the original extended deadline of Oct. 31 to Sept. 30, amid pressure from the administration, NPR reported.

Complaint_ 2020-07-27

Contact Tran Nguyen at [email protected] or follow @nguyenntrann on twitter.

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