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AG Leads Lawsuit Against Trump Admin’s Attempts to Discount Undocumented Immigrants from Census Count

The attempt by the Trump administration would exclude millions of residents from the count that determines the apportionment of state resources
Photo: Molly Adams/Wikimedia.

Today, New York Attorney General Letitia James is leading a coalition of states, cities and counties in the fight against President Donald Trump's attempts to exclude undocumented immigrants from this year's census count.

The move would leave out millions of American residents from the counting base used to determine political representation in federal government and the allocation of resources and state funding.

James' office said she would argue that the administration must count the "whole number of persons" residing in the country for apportionment, as the U.S. Constitution and the Census Act required.

James will argue that excluding undocumented immigrants will lead to the loss of congressional seats and presidential electors in the electoral college, especially for immigrant-rich states, like New York. It will also degrade the quality of census data that states and local jurisdictions rely on to perform critical governmental functions and could reduce resources to state and local jurisdictions.

In July, President Trump said he would exclude undocumented immigrants from the census for the first time in history. He has continued his efforts despite a number of legal challenges. James said Trump's illegal proclamation was the latest in a long list of anti-immigrant actions and statements he had made since the beginning of his campaign.

"The U.S. Constitution and the Census Act are crystal clear — every person residing in the U.S. during the census, regardless of legal status, must be counted," she said.

"And despite this lame-duck president's repeated attempts to politicize the census and strip immigrant-rich states, like New York, of representation, the simple truth is that no one ceases to be a person because they lack documentation or ceases to live here because the president would prefer them to leave; that's why we filed this lawsuit and numerous others like it before."

In 2018, the Office of the Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration, challenging its efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.

In July, James led a coalition of states, cities, and counties in filing a lawsuit against President Trump, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and others after they announced they would leave millions of undocumented immigrants out of the apportionment base.

New York congressional members voiced their support of the AG. Rep. Nydia Velázquez said Trump's anti-immigrant agenda had made clear his administration's desire to diminish the role of immigrants in the country's communities.

"This latest attempt is blatantly unconstitutional as our Constitution demands that the census count every person. Immigrants are our family members, neighbors, co-workers, and friends, and the census must reflect their contributions to our communities by ensuring every person, regardless of legal status, is counted."

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said the census was a pillar of American democracy to ensure everyone, regardless of immigration status, was counted and represented in Congress.

"The attempted exclusion of undocumented immigrants from congressional apportionment only further proves that the Trump Administration has tried everything to politicize the census to carry out their cruel and xenophobic policies," he said.

"I am proud that Brooklyn's own Attorney General Letitia James will bring the fight to the lame-duck Trump Administration and advocate on behalf of New Yorkers and everyone who makes this nation a gorgeous mosaic."