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Udall, Heinrich Denounce Trump Administration Attempt to Exclude Immigrants from Census Count, an Unconstitutional Move that Jeopardizes Fair and Accurate Congressional Representation

A fair and accurate Census count is critical to accurately reflecting state and federal electoral representation, but Trump administration decisions to cut the Census enumeration timeline a month short endangers a complete count for New Mexico

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined a group of 19 senators to demand that the U.S. Census Bureau provide information about how the agency will use the data collected during the 2020 Census to produce a fair and accurate apportionment of federal representation across the country. The senators’ letter follows attempts by the Trump administration to undermine an effective Census count by spreading fear and misinformation within immigrant communities and cutting the timeline a month short. Last week, a federal court rejected President Trump’s executive order to exclude unauthorized immigrants from population counts that will be used to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives next year.

With less than one month remaining after the Trump administration arbitrarily cut the Census response period short, more than one-quarter of New Mexico’s population has not yet been counted. Just 86.1 percent of New Mexicans have been counted in the 2o2o Census, which falls below the  current national average of 91.8 percent. An inaccurate count places billions of dollars in federal funding at stake and affects the apportionment of state and federal representation for the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has undercut the Census count among immigrant communities by attempting to include a citizenship question on the response form. While this attempt was blocked by the Supreme Court, the Trump administration has further tried to compile the information using alternative information from a patchwork of state and federal agencies. Last week, a federal court rejected President Trump’s executive order to exclude unauthorized immigrants from population counts that will be used to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives next year.

“From the time of our founding, the Constitution established a democracy premised on the idea that all persons—no matter where they are from, regardless of whether they can vote—deserve representation in our government,” the senators wrote.

“Following the Supreme Court’s ruling to block this administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the president issued an executive order directing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to collect citizenship information from other governmental sources,” the senators continued. “Per this directive, the Census Bureau has amassed a collection of administrative records from various sources—some from existing agreements with federal, state, and local agencies, and others from newly established partnerships.”

The senators further highlighted the Trump administration’s unconstitutional attempts to undermine accurate federal representation. “This arbitrary collection of citizenship information implicates the president’s unconstitutional attempt to exclude undocumented people from fair representation in the Congress. Apportionment is a geographic division of congressional seats. If only certain states are sharing citizenship information—and the data shared is itself unreliable or inaccurate—and federal data sets do not capture all persons in the country, then the data available to the Census Bureau for apportionment tabulation will be incomplete and run afoul of the Constitution.  The resulting reapportionment report submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives by the president will be an inaccurate, arbitrary, and unconstitutional distribution of congressional seats across the country, based on states that either had or did not have citizenship information for selected portions of their population.”

The 2020 Census can be completed by phone, mail or online. The survey does not have a citizenship question and all information provided is kept confidential. Additional information on the Census collection, how to receive a form or how to fill it out can be found here.

The full text of the letter can be found below and is available here.

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