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State lawmakers deride Trump memo on Census

Undocumented persons cannot be counted

OW Staff Writer | 7/24/2020, midnight

President Donald Trump’s memorandum this week directing the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to exclude undocumented immigrants from the U.S. Census population count used to determine congressional apportionment was drawing sharp criticism from California Democrats and civil rights groups.

Trump said Tuesday’s decision was in line with an executive order he signed last year, in which federal departments and agencies have been collecting citizenship data the president said was needed “to conduct an accurate census and inform responsible decisions about public policy, voting rights, and representation’’ in Congress.

“Today’s action to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base reflects a better understanding of the Constitution and is consistent with the principles of our representative democracy,’’ Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. “My Administration will not support giving congressional representation to aliens who enter or remain in the country unlawfully, because doing so would create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government. Just as we do not give political power to people who are here temporarily, we should not give political power to people who should not be here at all.’’

Rep. Judy Chu of Los Angeles tweeted: “This is unconstitutional and harmful to our country. Unconstitutional: The Constitution calls for a count of ALL PERSONS. Clear as crystal. Harmful: Documented or not, immigrants use our roads, schools, and hospitals. Not counting them would deprive communities of funding.’’

Rep. Linda Sanchez, who represents parts of southeast Los Angeles County, tweeted: “Imagine if President Trump put this kind of effort into solving the #coronavirus crisis.’’

The decision was blasted by Esperanza Guevara, the census program manager for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

“This ban is par for the course from a Trump administration with only one discourse, hate, and one tactic, chaos. But this country is on to him, and people continue to turn their back on this train wreck of a presidency. We will continue to follow the law and to encourage everyone to participate in the census. We know the benefits, we believe in the process, and Trump can no longer distract us from working to improve our communities.’’

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a defiant statement criticizing the memo.

“Counting every person in our country through the Census is a principle so foundational that it is written into our Constitution”, Newsom said. “This latest action by the administration to exclude undocumented immigrants when determining representation in Congress, rooted in racism and xenophobia, is a blatant attack on our institutions and our neighbors.”

The deadline for individuals to complete their Census forms is Aug. 14. The forms can be filed online at 2020census.gov.