California Democrats vowed to fight a policy change from the Trump administration that would exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census, potentially depriving the state of the federal funding and political power that is tied the decennial count.
California, home to an estimated 2 million undocumented immigrants has a lot to lose if the Trump administration carries out the policy.
In response to the memo, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the action to exclude undocumented immigrants in the census count was rooted in “racism and xenophobia.”
“In California, we will not back down from our historic work to achieve a fair and accurate Census count.” he said in a statement. “To all Californians, including members of our immigrant communities, know that this is your home, and it is your right to be counted here.”
The memo comes nearly a year after The Supreme Court struck down the Trump administration’s argument to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census. California leaders fought that policy, too, arguing it would cause undocumented people to fear the census and not participate in it.
“President Trump already lost in the Supreme Court trying to sabotage a complete and accurate census count. This latest attempt is even more flawed and transparent,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
The Trump administration in a memorandum announcing the policy argues that the Constitution does not define which persons must be included in the apportionment base and that it is up to the discretion of the executive branch to determine who qualifies as an inhabitant.
The administration says they should not be counted in the census that determines how many congressional seats each state receives. California has 53 seats in Congress and demographers anticipate that the state will lose one after the census.
“Many of these aliens entered the country illegally in the first place. Increasing congressional representation based on the presence of aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status would also create perverse incentives encouraging violations of Federal law,” according to the memorandum. “States adopting policies that encourage illegal aliens to enter this country and that hobble Federal efforts to enforce the immigration laws passed by the Congress should not be rewarded with greater representation in the House of Representatives.”
California is home to five of the 20 metropolitan areas with the largest undocumented immigrant population including Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose.
Immigrant advocates say they plan to continue census outreach.
Focused on increasing Latino participation in the census count, Samuel Molina, California state director of Mi Familia Vota, said the national civic engagement organization had already been educating residents that the census did not include a citizenship question.
Molina said Wednesday’s announcement doesn’t deter from their goal to obtain an accurate census count.
“We really need to stay focused and remind the country that immigrants are an integral part of the success of our communities in our country,” Molina said.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the census count’s deadline was extended to the end of October.
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