(CMC) — New York Attorney General Letitia James scored another major victory in the fight to protect the United States 2020 Decennial Census from the Trump administration by stopping President Donald Trump’s attempts to exclude undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants from the apportionment base following the Census count.
A three-judge panel of the Southern District of New York Thursday blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to make an unprecedented change to the constitutionally-mandated count of every person living in the US — leaving out unauthorised Caribbean and other immigrants from the Census numbers that determine each state’s share of seats in the US Congress.
The panel’s decision will likely be appealed directly to the US Supreme Court. The ruling comes with 19 days left before the 2020 Census ends on September 30.
“President Trump’s repeated attempts to hinder, impair and prejudice an accurate census and the subsequent apportionment have failed once again,” James told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). “The courts have ruled in our favour on every census matter in the last two years and continually rejected President Trump’s unlawful efforts to manipulate the census for political purposes.”
“We cannot allow the White House’s constant fearmongering and xenophobia to stop us from being counted. We urge everyone to fill out the census, if they have not already, and we will continue to take every legal action available to ensure all communities are counted, all communities are properly represented, and all communities get the federal funding they need and deserve,” she added.
In July, James led a coalition of states, cities and counties in filing a lawsuit against Trump, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and others after they announced that they would illegally leave millions of undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants out of the apportionment base that establishes the number of members in the US House of Representatives that each state receives.
The lawsuit sought to stop the Trump administration from violating the long-standing constitutional and statutory requirement to count the “whole number of persons” residing in the country for apportionment, without regard to immigration status.
On Thursday, the three-judge court agreed with James that the president’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base was unlawful.
The court said that “the merits of the parties’ dispute are not particularly close or complicated”.
In the decision, the court held that Trump was violating the law by seeking to change the apportionment base, and that “the president must act in accordance with, and within the boundaries of, the authority that Congress has granted”.
“For the reasons discussed above, we conclude that the president did not do so here and that the Presidential Memorandum is an ultra vires violation of Congress’s delegation of its constitutional responsibility to count the whole number of persons in each state and to apportion members of the House of Representatives among the states according to their respective numbers under,” the court ruled.