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Common Cause Files Amended Challenge to Trump’s Directive to Omit Undocumented Immigrants in Census Apportionment Calculations

WASHINGTON - Today, Common Cause amended its challenge to President Trump’s memorandum requiring the exclusion of undocumented people from being counted in the census for congressional apportionment, adding new co-plaintiffs and new causes of action. The amended complaint in Common Cause v. Trump now includes the City of Dayton, Ohio; the City of Portland, Oregon, five new organizational plaintiffs, and a total of sixteen (16) additional individual plaintiffs of diverse backgrounds from California, Texas, and New Jersey (in addition to preexisting individual plaintiffs from Florida and New York).

“The ongoing attempt by the Trump Administration to manipulate the census for partisan political gain will affect every single person who lives in the United States,” said Keshia Morris Desir, Common Cause Census and Mass Incarceration Project Manager.  “We felt it was important that we add additional plaintiffs - including cities, organizations, and individuals - from across the nation in order to represent the breadth of those whose communities and families would suffer if this memorandum were to go unchallenged. Our constitution promises that everyone is represented, regardless of whether they are eligible to vote - and we are thrilled that a diverse group of individuals, organizations, and cities has come together to fight to preserve that right.”

“This attempt to circumvent the Constitution is the brainchild of the late Thomas Hofeller, the former top redistricting advisor to the GOP, who steered the Administration’s efforts to remove non-citizens from the census with a finding that this strategy would be advantageous for Republicans and white Americans,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “This cynical and racist attempt to influence and manipulate census data in unconstitutional and must be stopped now.”

As in the original complaint, the amended complaint charges the Administration with violating Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution as amended by Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and related statutes requiring that every resident be counted in the census and included in the basis for reapportioning congressional districts, without regard to citizenship or immigration status. Further, the complaint outlines the Administration’s violations of the Equal Protection guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by diluting a voter’s vote based on where they live and by taking an adverse action against residents on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin.

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Additionally, the Amended Complaint alleges that the Administration’s plan to remove undocumented immigrants from the apportionment base violates both Article I, Section 2’s requirement of an “actual enumeration” and the statutory prohibition on use of statistical sampling in connection with apportionment.  As the Amended Complaint explains, these provisions preclude the ad hoc methodology by which the Administration plans to cobble together unreliable data from various non-census sources to manipulate the census totals. 

Plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment that the Administration’s actions violate the constitution and federal statutes, as well as an injunction to block this unconstitutional order, and to require the President to count all people within a state, regardless of immigration status, for the purpose of congressional apportionment.

The full list of Plaintiffs include: Common Cause, the cities of Atlanta, Georgia; Dayton, Ohio; Paterson, New Jersey; and Portland, Oregon; the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (a nonprofit refugee advocacy group based in California); the Center for Civic Policy (a nonprofit advocacy group based in New Mexico); Masa (a nonprofit advocacy group based in New York); New Jersey Citizen Action (a nonprofit advocacy group based in New Jersey); New Mexico Asian Family Center (a nonprofit advocacy group based in New Mexico); New Mexico Comunidades en Acción y de Feé (a nonprofit faith-based advocacy group based in New Mexico); and 23 individual Latino, African American, Asian American and other voters from California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.

To read the Amended Complaint, click here.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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