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The Supreme Court announced that it would review President Trump’s appeal to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count used to calculate the allocation of congressional districts on November 30.
The unprecedented plan could affect moving federal funds from urban states with high immigrant populations and towards rural and more Republican interests, both in political power and billions of dollars.
In New York, a three-judge jury said Trump’s July 21 memorandum on the matter was an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ authority given to him. It stopped data about undocumented immigrants from being included by the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau.
It is unclear how to produce the statistics after this year’s census is completed in their reports to the president. The hearing is expected to occur one month until federal law specifies that the president is responsible for the current state population counts for reapportioning the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
Under his current term in office, the timing raises Trump’s opportunity to attempt to alter who is included in the figures. The case was fast-tracked, and the justices said that they would hold a November 30 hearing.
It is likely to be a nine-member court again by then, if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed, giving the court a conservative 6-to-3 majority. The administration says timing matters since, in January, it must apply the proposal to Congress.
Whether the matter would split the court along party lines is unclear. Still, the question is another mark of how the once-decade census has been turned into a political war center from a purely bureaucratic exercise.
The Supreme Court agreed with Trump’s administration earlier this week that amid concerns with the novel coronavirus and other issues would result in an undercount of minorities. And, those in areas that are difficult to access might avoid the count of Americans.
The Lower Courts said that by the end of the month, the count could proceed. That would make it impossible to get Trump’s details by the end of the year. Since the first U.S. census in 1790, all citizens and non-citizens, regardless of immigration status, have been included in the numbers of U.S. residents counted to decide each state’s share of congressional seats.
If the Trump administration wins the appeal against undocumented immigrants, the House of Representatives could lose seats to states with comparatively large numbers. However, even if the Supreme Court repeals the decision, it is still unclear that Trump will exempt undocumented immigrants from the results of this year’s census because the 2020 forms did not include the question about the person’s immigration status.