A special three-judge panel has blocked a memorandum signed by President Donald Trump that sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the U.S. Census.
The panel, out of New York, declared the July 31 memorandum “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the President.” The court also blocked the Commerce Department, headed by Trump appointee Wilbur Ross, from including information about the number of undocumented immigrants in their reports to the president after the census is complete.
The Washington Post is reporting that the ruling is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
The court said that those in the country illegally qualify as people to be counted in the states they reside, opining, “Throughout the Nation’s history, the figures used to determine the apportionment of Congress — in the language of the current statutes, the ‘total population’ and the ‘whole number of persons’ in each State — have included every person residing in the United States at the time of the census, whether citizen or non-citizen and whether living here with legal status or without.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the organizations that challenged the president’s memo, called the ruling a “huge victory for voting rights and for immigrants’ rights.”
“President Trump has tried and failed yet again to weaponize the census against immigrant communities,” Dale Ho wrote in a statement, “The law is clear—every person counts in the census.”
Ho is the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
The ruling is the second defeat for the Trump administration related to the U.S. Census. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled against the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the census.
The administration is facing a third court ruling associated with the census.
In mid-April, the census deadline was extended until Oct. 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But on Aug. 3, the administration abruptly moved to move up the deadline to Sept. 30.
A federal judge ordered the administration to produce internal documents related to the date change, which experts say could shorten the period for analyzing and correcting problems with the data used to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and distribute over $1.5 trillion in federal funding.
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