By Neena Maya Sapkota, age 11
President Trump is seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants in the 2020 census. The census has been recorded every 10 years since 1790 and counts everyone living in the United States and its five territories. Providing important population data, the census helps policymakers determine the amount of services and funding given to U.S. communities and dictates the number of U.S. House of Representatives seats that are allocated to each state. The final deadline for this year’s census, which has been twice changed, is September 31, 2020.
The House of Representatives is designed to reflect the will of the people. Each state is guaranteed one or more House seats based on census counts. The official census website states that “all people (citizens and noncitizens) with a usual residence in the 50 states are to be included…” However, the Trump administration has ordered that the census stop counting undocumented immigrants. If Trump’s new order survives ongoing legal challenges by multiple states, certain states’ populations would be undercounted, leading to fewer House seats and decreased funding.
Republicans would likely benefit from this directive, as stated by the New York Times. By not counting undocumented immigrants, some congressional seats are likely to shift from Democratic to Republican.
Trump’s logistical challenge is that there is no way to distinguish undocumented immigrants in the census data. Last year the Supreme Court blocked the administration from requiring the Census Bureau to ask whether respondents were citizens.
Citizens from Florida and New York are suing the Trump administration, according to The Independent, claiming that Trump’s order will damage their representation in Congress, since their states have an “above-average” number of undocumented immigrants. In late July, 21 states, along with multiple cities and counties, also filed a lawsuit against Trump.