New York State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood presented arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court today in a case that could affect the number of House of Representatives seats immigrant-rich states like New York will be afforded after the census count.
Trump v. New York was brought by states, local governments, and groups including the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Civil Liberties Union after President Donald Trump issued a memo directing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to exclude undocumented immigrants from determining the number of congressional seats each state is entitled to.
States like New York and California have millions of immigrants, both documented and not, who contribute to the economy and rely on the states’ social services, schools, and healthcare systems.
On a conference call with Attorney General Letitia James and reporters, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, argued that the President’s attempt was breaking with 230 years of history.
“The legal mandate since the founding is clear, every person in the United States is counted in the census, and is represented in Congress,” Ho stated. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an adult or a child, a citizen or an immigrant, have legal status or if you’re undocumented. That has been a 230-year consistent unbroken practice throughout our nation’s history. The Trump administration is proposing a radical break from that.”
Attorney General James said President Trump was attempting to shift the balance of power in the nation from immigrant-heavy blue states to red states, which are home to older, whiter Americans.
“This nothing more than an attempt to strip immigrant-rich states like New York out of representation,” she said. “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.”
The Constitution specifically states that congressional districts are to be divvied up by “counting the whole number of persons in each state.” The President’s attempts to change that calculus had been denied by three courts before today’s hearing by the nation’s highest court.
“The administration is ending as it began with yet another attack on immigrant communities,” Ho argued on the conference call. “It was almost four years ago that the administration began with the Muslim ban. It ends with its second attempt to weaponize the census against immigrant communities.”