Texas, Florida Are Collateral Damage In Trump's Latest Executive Command
It's not just New York and California that President Trump is targeting with a memorandum Tuesday that would exclude undocumented immigrants from Census counts.
He's also messing with Texas, and other states he would need to win if he wants to be re-elected, such as Florida, Georgia and possibly North Carolina.
The memorandum says that Trump wants undocumented migrants excluded for the purposes of drawing new congressional districts after this year's 2020 Census count.
"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 memo says.
At it expressly singles out California by using the population of undocumented migrants estimated there in 2017 by the Pew Research Center -- 2.2 million.
"Failure to exclude illegal immigrants for the purposes of apportionment would have major ramifications and could cause some American citizens to be proportionally underrepresented," the memo says. "Estimates suggest that one State – home to more than 2.2 million illegal aliens – could receive two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated."
What the memo doesn't it do is mention the next two states with high populations of migrants -- Texas, which has 1.6 million, and Florida, which has 775,000.
The next blue state on the list is New York, with 725,000.
Other red or swing states that Trump's dictum could hurt are Georgia, with 400,000 undocumented, and North Carolina, with 325,000.
Exactly how the apportionment of seats would work out is not clear without a lot of analysis based on the actual Census counts. But each district is supposed to be around 750,000 inhabitants, and there is rounding up or down depending on counts in other states.
The memorandum is extremely unlikely to ever be implemented, since the Constitution is explicit in stating that every "person" must be counted.
Indeed, when Trump's current attorney general, William Barr, was head of the White House's Office of Legal Counsel in the first Bush administration, the White House wrote to Congress in 1989 to inform lawmakers they could not pass a law to exclude the undocumented. It cited the Census clause and the 14th Amendment.
Barr has since changed his tune, but the courts have not.
With little to no chance the memo is ever enacted, Democrats hammered it not only as unconstitutional, but a cheap ploy aimed at whipping up Trump's anti-immigrant base.
“This order isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and will be struck down by the courts," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "Attempting to weaponize the Census for political gain is yet another racially driven attack by a president and administration that wrongly views immigrants as the enemy, when they are a vital part of our society."
“This is just the latest desperate attempt by this president to distract from his disastrous coronavirus response by scapegoating immigrants," said Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in a statement. "Unfortunately, the Administration's anti-immigrant zeal and desire to divide us as a nation knows no bounds."
"Trump’s unlawful effort is designed to again inject fear and distrust into vulnerable and traditionally undercounted communities, while sowing chaos with the Census," said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn's office did not answer a request for comment. Nor did the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census.