Lawsplainer! Trump Doing Illegal Fu@k-Sh*t To Census, Surprise!
Well, we now know Trump's latest plan to subvert democracy and screw over the American people — by pretending that undocumented immigrants just don't exist!
Donald Trump, with the help of John Yoo, as in George W. Bush's torture guy John Yoo, announced yesterday in a memorandum that he would be fucking with the data collected by the Census Bureau and altering it to exclude undocumented immigrants before sending it to Congress. The result of this would be that undocumented immigrants would be ignored when determining how many congressional representatives are allocated to each state, taking congresspeople away from states with high immigrant populations and instead giving them to other, whiter states.
In addition to being white supremacist nonsense, this is also blatantly unconstitutional. But that has never been a problem for this regime!
Yoo and Trump have apparently decided that the Supreme Court's recent decision striking down Trump's attempt to rescind DACA gives Trump carte blanche to do whatever he wants, Constitution and federal law be damned. (Don't try to make sense of it. It is as batshit insane as it sounds.)
If you're having a sense of déjâ-vu right now, it's not just you; Trump has been trying to manipulate the Census to screw over people of color, immigrants, and people in blue states ever since he took office. He already tried to fuck with the Census and intimidate people of color and immigrants, both documented and undocumented in 2018, when he tried to include a question on the Census specifically asking respondents about their citizenship status in a baldfaced attempt to intimidate immigrants and people of color into not responding. After documents came out showing Republicans were specifically hoping to benefit "Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites," the Supreme Court struck down this bullshit.
But with Trump, enough is never enough. And since he will hopefully, fingers crossed, be leaving office in January, he is desperate to try to find other ways to destroy our democratic system in the meantime.
The executive order comes right out and says that its purpose is to ignore undocumented people, stating
For the purpose of the reapportionment of Representatives following the 2020 census, it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status[.]
It also ridiculously claims that "[t]he Constitution does not specifically define which persons must be included in the apportionment base." Unsurprisingly, the memorandum pretends that the words in the Constitution that directly contradict this just don't exist. Section 2, clause 1 of the 14th Amendment states that
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state[.]
As we no longer count anyone in the United States as being merely three-fifths of a person, this language seems to be self-explanatory. And the Supreme Court has long agreed.
The memorandum also claims it is proper for the president to fuck with the data collected by the Census Bureau, saying,
The President, by law, makes the final determination regarding the "whole number of persons in each State," which determines the number of Representatives to be apportioned to each State, and transmits these determinations and accompanying census data to the Congress (2 U.S.C. 2a(a)).
Of course, that's not at all what Title 2, Section 2a(a) says. Rather, it states
the President shall transmit to the Congress a statement showing the whole number of persons in each State[,] as ascertained under the [...] decennial census of the population, and the number of Representatives to which each State would be entitled under an apportionment of the then existing number of Representatives by the method known as the method of equal proportions, no State to receive less than one Member.
So, no. There's no part of the law that says "but if Donald Trump is President, he gets to do whatever he wants!" No matter what Trump, Stephen Miller, and John Yoo think.
The ACLU has already announced that it plans to challenge Trump's latest attempt to Make America White Again. Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said yesterday that
The Constitution requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census. President Trump can't pick and choose. He tried to add a citizenship question to the census and lost in the Supreme Court. His latest attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities will be found unconstitutional. We'll see him in court, and win, again.
Whether this latest will hold up in court (spoiler: it won't), however, is probably not the point. While we all rightfully scream about what utter poppycock this is, Trump gets to distract everyone from the absolute disaster that is his COVID-19 "response." Plus, racism and xenophobia are two of his absolute favorite ways to rile up his bigoted, hateful base.
Like most things Trump tries to do, this is discriminatory, anti-democratic bullshit. But don't take my word for it! Let's see what Trump's own Census Bureau has to say about the Founders' intent in writing the Census into the Constitution. After all, we're all "originalists," right?
The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in "such manner as they shall by Law direct" (Article I, Section 2). The Founders of our fledgling nation had a bold and ambitious plan to empower the people over their new government. The plan was to count every person living in the newly created United States of America, and to use that count to determine representation in the Congress.
Follow JLC on Twitter!