(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Tuesday that seeks to bar people in the U.S. illegally from being counted in congressional reapportionment, a move that drew immediate criticism from Democratic officials.
The Supreme Court blocked the administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form, with a majority saying the administration’s rationale for the citizenship question — to help enforce voting rights — appeared to be contrived.
Trump said in the memorandum that he had determined that “respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process warrant the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base, to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the President’s discretion under the law.”
The presidential memorandum is expected to draw legal challenges.
“There is no end to Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda,” said Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. First, he tried to put a citizenship question on the census but got blocked by the Supreme Court. Now he’s back at it with an unconstitutional order that has no purpose other than to silence and disempower Latino voices and communities of color.”
The Census Bureau said last month that more than 90 million households had already responded to the 2020 Census with the majority doing it online. People can still respond on their own online, over the phone or by mail — all without having to meet a census taker. Only this week, door-knockers started heading out to households in six areas whose residents hadn’t yet answered the questionnaire.
Opponents of the citizenship question said it would discourage participation by immigrants and residents who are in the country illegally, resulting in inaccurate figures for a count that determines the distribution of some $675 billion in federal spending and how many congressional districts each state gets.
Trump’s efforts to add the citizenship question had drawn fury and backlash from critics who alleged that it was intended to discourage participation in the survey, not only by people living in the country illegally but also by citizens who fear that participating would expose noncitizen family members to repercussions.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.