Washington D.C., Nov 30, 2020 / 13:00 pm
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday on whether the Trump administration can exclude undocumented immigrants when apportioning congressional representatives based on a state’s population.
The case of Trump v. New York is based on a July memorandum of President Trump to the Commerce Secretary, noting that undocumented immigrants were to be excluded from the apportionment of representatives to states, based on the 2020 Census.
According to the Constitution, the number of congressional representatives from a particular state depends upon the state’s population, which is tabulated by the Census. According to Article I, Sec. 2, The population is “the whole Number of free Persons” and “three fifths of all other Persons,” a reference to the practice of slavery in many states at the time. The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, states that “representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State.”
Trump, however, has stated that his 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.”
The U.S. Bishops’ conference has repeatedly opposed the policy.
In a statement on Monday, the chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee said that excluding undocumented immigrants from the count of total persons in a state “is counter to the Constitution and makes people feel invisible and not valued as human beings.”
“The Church’s teaching is clear: human dignity is most sacred, regardless of legal status,” stated Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C. “For that reason, we once again affirm the need to count all persons in the census, as well as in the apportionment of congressional representatives.”
The state of New York challenged Trump’s order in court, arguing that excluding people from congressional representation based on their citizenship status was unconstitutional and unprecedented.