Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Immigrant rights groups represented by the ACLU are suing to stop President Donald Trump's latest effort to weaponize the 2020 census.

Immigrant rights groups represented by the ACLU are suing to stop President Donald Trump's latest effort to weaponize the 2020 census. (Photo: @CensusCounts/Twitter)

ACLU and Immigrant Rights Groups Challenge Latest Trump Effort to 'Rig the Census for Partisan Gain'

"The census—and our fight—is about ensuring that our communities are fully represented in this country."

Jessica Corbett

"The constitutional mandate is clear—every person counts in the census. Undocumented immigrants are people—and nothing President Trump does or says changes that fact."

"We want to make sure that President Trump can't erase this country's millions of hard-working immigrants and cripple the regions that have welcomed them as neighbors."
—Gustavo Torres, CASA

So said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, in a statement Friday announcing that the legal organization and partners filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of immigrant rights groups challenging a memorandum that the president issued Tuesday seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York by the national ACLU, its affiliates in New York and Texas, and the law firm Arnold & Porter on behalf of ADC Research Institute, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, CASA, FIEL Houston, Make the Road New York, and the New York Immigration Coalition.

"Trump's outrageous memo is an attempt to erase immigrants," declared Theo Oshiro, deputy director of Make the Road New York. "Today, we are sending a clear message: All communities will be counted. We will keep organizing and fighting to ensure our communities receive the representation and resources that we deserve."

Samer Khalaf, national president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, put the Trump's effort into the broader context of his tenure as president.

"Trump's memo is yet another attack on immigrants and communities of color," said Khalaf. "His administration tells us time and time again—they do not see us all as equal persons. And we will not stand for that. We are working for an America where all humans are treated with dignity and respect."

The immigrant rights groups represented by the ACLU aren't alone in battling the president's latest effort to "suppress the count and rig the census for partisan gain by cheating big, immigrant rich states like New York of federal resources and representation," as Steve Choi of the New York Immigration Coalition put it.

A coalition of 21 state attorneys general, led by Letitia James of New York, also filed a suit Friday in response to Trump's memo, which James described as "another election-year tactic to fire up his base by dehumanizing immigrants and using them as scapegoats for his failures as a leader."

"No one ceases to be a person because they lack documentation," James said, "which is why we filed this lawsuit."

Echoing that message, César Espinosa of FIEL Houston said:

We as immigrants are a vital part of our communities. We as immigrants live in the shadows because of unjust immigration laws that refuse to accept us as full citizens of this country. We as immigrants will no longer stay silent when faced with these injustices. We want to be taken into account not only on the census but at the decision-making table in Congress. We are proud to join in this lawsuit because we cannot have taxation without representation. We are human beings who are a vital part of the fabric of America and we must be treated as such.

CASA executive director Gustavo Torres explained that with the suit filed by the ACLU, "we want to make sure that President Trump can't erase this country's millions of hard-working immigrants and cripple the regions that have welcomed them as neighbors."

"The census—and our fight—is about ensuring that our communities are fully represented in this country," Torres added. "We won before the Supreme Court when Trump tried to add a citizenship question to the census and we will win again to ensure a complete count in 2020."

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration's attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Ho of the ACLU, who successfully argued that case before the high court, also said Friday that "Trump tried once to weaponize the census against immigrant communities, and failed. He will fail again."

The complaint filed Friday by the legal group says of the president's memo:

This xenophobic effort to deny the basic humanity of undocumented immigrants violates Article I’s mandate to count all "persons" in the census, and the Fourteenth Amendment's requirement that "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state..." (emphasis added). These words leave no room for doubt: they expressly mandate counting "the whole number of persons" living in the United States for purposes of congressional apportionment. As the Supreme Court held just four years ago, "the Fourteenth Amendment calls for the apportionment of congressional districts based on total population," including all non-citizens living in the United States, regardless of legal status.

With the Tuesday memo, said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman, "Trump is once again demonizing immigrants in a cynical ploy to deceive the public and squeeze resources and political power from states like New York."

"Trump's latest move to undermine the census is nothing more than a racist and anti-democratic Hail Mary," she added. "He fell flat before and will fall even harder this time, because everyone counts, and everyone must be counted."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·

Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·

Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo