Immigration and Citizenship

RELEASE: Trump Census Memo “Blatantly Unconstitutional”

WASHINGTON – On news today of the Census memorandum issued by President Trump, Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra and Civil Rights Director David Gans issued the following statement:

CAC President Elizabeth Wydra said, “This is blatantly unconstitutional. The Constitution’s text is clear. The federal government has a constitutional obligation to count all people living in the United States, whether they are citizens or noncitizens, whether they were born in the United States or in a distant part of the world.” 

“This is what makes the Census the cornerstone of our democracy,” CAC Civil Rights Director David Gans continued. “President Trump has no authority to refuse to count undocumented immigrants and strip them of representation in Congress.”

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Resources:

The Fourteenth Amendment, in relevant part: “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.” (emphasis added) https://www.theusconstitution.org/constitutional-progress/the-constitution-of-the-united-states/#amendments13-14 

CAC Issue Brief, The Cornerstone of Our Democracy: The Census Clause and the Constitutional Obligation to Count All Persons, David Gans, March 19, 2018: https://www.theusconstitution.org/think_tank/cornerstone-democracy-census-clause-constitutional-obligation-count-persons/ 

An excerpt: 

Some even called for overhauling the Census Clause and putting in its place a “true census of the legal voters.” Supporters of the Fourteenth Amendment argued that such a change in our Constitution’s system of representation would be “an abandonment of one of the oldest and safest landmarks of the Constitution” and would “introduce[] a new principle in our Government, whose evil tendancy and results no man can measure to-day.” 

Instead, the Reconstruction Framers insisted on “leav[ing] the primary basis of representation where it was placed by our fathers, the whole body of the people.” Elaborating on why the basis of representation should remain total population, Rep. John Bingham argued that it would be unwise to “strike from the basis of representation the entire immigrant population not naturalized,” observing that “[u]nder the Constitution as it now is and as it always has been, the entire immigrant population of this country is included in the basis of representation.” In his view, the “whole immigrant population should be numbered with the people and counted as part of them.” 

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org. 

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