Amid several rejections before federal court judges across the US, the Supreme Court has refused to rule out Trump’ plans to expel illegal immigrants from the US Census. While it may prove to be a temporary victory, it means that if illegal immigrants are excluded from the Census it could affect how many representatives a district gets in Congress.
According to the US Constitution, Congressional representatives will be apportioned among states, while the Census must include ‘the complete number of persons’ in each state. Meanwhile, the 1929 Census Act specifies how each Census is carried out, with a stipulation that says all people living in the US should be counted.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court said Trump’s efforts to exclude illegal immigrants from the Census was ‘questionable.’
US immigration crackdown
Trump’s attempts to exclude illegal immigrants from the Census form part of a wider crackdown on US immigration. There are an estimated 10 million illegal immigrants in the US.
Under the US Constitution, New York state and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argue that Trump’s directive is illegal, with a federal judge already ruling against it.
The issue has been compounded by an admission from US government lawyers that they’re unlikely to make the December 31 deadline for deciding the results of the Census, which must be passed to Congress by Trump. Lawyers also did not disclose whether illegal immigrants would be excluded or included as a subset.
Trump’s efforts to oust illegal immigrants from the Census has been widely viewed as a political move, knowing that it would almost definitely reduce Democrat numbers in the House of Representatives, which the Democratic Party currently controls.
The matter has reached the stage where it was a case of whether the Supreme Court would immediately throw out Trump’s plans or at least continue the case until the time it becomes live – meaning when Trump actually carries out his plan.
Supreme Court split on issue
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court is split on issue 6 – 3 with the conservatives, three of them nominated by Donald Trump, voting to continue the matter with three liberals dissenting.
The majority opinion stated: “At the end of the day, the standing and ripeness inquiries both lead to the conclusion that judicial resolution of this dispute is premature. Consistent with our determination that standing has not been shown and that the case is not ripe, we express no view on the merits of the constitutional and related statutory claims presented.”
“We hold only that they are not suitable for adjudication at this time,” the majority added.
Justice Stephen Breyer, for the liberals, said: “In enacting the 1929 Act, Congress sought to address that problem by using clear and broad language that would cabin discretion and remove opportunities for political gamesmanship. History shows that, all things considered, that approach has served us fairly well.”
“Departing from the text is an open invitation to use discretion to increase an electoral advantage. Because I believe plaintiffs’ claims are justiciable, ripe for review and meritorious, I would affirm the lower court’s holding. I respectfully dissent,” Breyer said.
The ACLU has confirmed that it will challenge Trump if he presses ahead with his plan to exclude illegal immigrants from the Census in the final days of his presidency.
Dale Ho, an ACLU lawyer, said: “If the administration actually tries to implement this policy, we’ll sue again, and we’ll win.”
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