Some Queens lawmakers are calling out President Donald Trump’s memorandum barring undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 Census towards Congressional apportionment.
The order issued on Tuesday, July 21, would prevent migrants in the United States from being counted towards the division of the House of Representatives, which will be determined using data from the 2020 Census.
“The Constitution does not specifically define which persons must be included in the apportionment base,” the memorandum read. “Although the Constitution requires the ‘persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed,’ to be enumerated in the census, that requirement has never been understood to include in the apportionment base every individual physically present within a State’s boundaries at the time of the census.”
The memorandum by the Queens-born president went on to state that it’s up to the executive branch to determine who qualifies as an “inhabitant” and includes authority to “exclude” individuals “who are not in a lawful immigration status.”
According to NPR, the constitution empowers Congress, not the president, to carry out the “‘actual enumeration’ of the country’s population in ‘such manner as they shall by law direct.'”
Some elected officials who represent the “World’s Borough” — home to nearly 1.1 million immigrants out of a total population of 3 million in New York City — called the action “unconstitutional.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng addressed the order on Tuesday, claiming the president’s order was “unconstitutional.”
“President Trump’s unconstitutional attempt to count some people instead of ALL [sic] people for reapportionment will fail just like his unsuccessful attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census,” Meng said. “I helped defeat that effort and I will do the same with his latest move to undermine the constitution and do further harm to immigrant communities. From the Muslim travel ban to separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, this President will do anything he can to advance his anti-immigrant agenda, and now he is using reapportionment to expand that cruel and un-American effort.”
On Wednesday, Meng, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced legislation to stop Trump’s order.
The ‘‘No Funds for Apportionment Exclusion Act,” which has 48 co-sponors, would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement, administer, or enforce the President’s plan.
Meng represents District 6, which encompasses a number of Queens neighborhoods, including Bayside, Elmhurst, Flushing, Forest Hills, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth and Rego Park.
“Immigrants have always been America’s strength, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how so many immigrants have put themselves on the front lines to help combat the coronavirus,” Meng added. “They have made enormous sacrifices, working tirelessly to provide the critical services we need and depend on. […] Immigrants are part of the fabric of our nation, and we will not allow them to be kicked to the curb by this President.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, chair of the Oversight Committee, announced House members will hold an emergency hearing next week regarding Trump’s “flatly unconstitutional” action.
“[…] It demonstrates once again that President Trump will stop at nothing to politicize our democratic institutions and harm entire communities for his own political interests,” said Maloney, who represents District 12.
Some districts in Queens were already facing challenges to get everyone counted.
The borough’s overall self-response rate is at 54 percent, making it the second-to-last borough with the highest self-response rate so far, according to New York Regional Census Center.
For months, elected officials have encouraged constituents to get counted.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, called Trump’s action “not just immoral; it’s unconstitutional.”
“When it comes to the United States Census, the Constitution’s mandate is clear: everyone residing in the US must be counted,” he said. “It is unconscionable that the President is once again attempting to weaponize the US Census against our immigrant families. This action is little more than a campaign stunt, one that I believe will be thwarted by our judicial system and by voters this November.”
Councilman Francisco Moya, who represents Jackson Heights, East Elmhust, LeFrak City and Corona, said the order is “nakedly political.”
“Republicans already showed us their playbook here. Trump and his flunkies don’t actually believe that carving undocumented immigrants out of the census is in the best interest of the country,” said Moya. “Trump doesn’t care about the countless people who depend on the federal programs that will be gouged if this memorandum is followed — programs like Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP, education grants and housing assistance. All he and Republicans care about is that this will help them gerrymander districts to shore up votes and silence immigrant communities. This memorandum is purely about political self-interest. It’s shameful, malicious and unconstitutional.”
State Senator Jessica Ramos, who represents District 13, took to social media to remind individuals that the census does not have a citizenship question.
“Every single person in America counts in the 2020 Census REGARDLESS [sic] of immigrants status,” Ramos wrote in a Twitter post. “We will NOT [sic] let fear or intimidation stop our communities from getting counted.”
District 13 encompasses Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and parts of Astoria and Woodside, with almost 60 percent of its population being foreign-born.
Ramos also linked to my2020census.gov, encouraging those who have not filled it out to do so now.
The 2020 Census is ongoing, with the self-response deadline set for Oct. 31. The census recommends households use April 1, 2020 as a reference for where an individual lives and how many people live there.
This story was updated at 4:02 p.m., on Thursday, July 23.