Census numbers determine states’ power in the House of Representatives.
President Donald Trump signed an order this week that would exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census count used to determine states’ number of seats in the House of Representatives.
This means around 275,000 people, or 4% of Arizona’s population, could be left out of the numbers deciding how many lawmakers should represent the state.
Across the country, a total of 10.7 million could be excluded.
The higher a state’s population, the more representatives they get, giving them more power than less populous states in the House.
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Because of its steadily growing population, Arizona has gained a new House seat every decade since 1960. It is expected to gain another after 2020.
The results of Trump’s order would ultimately benefit his party.
As Leah Litman, an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, explained in a Washington Post analysis, Democrat-leaning areas tend to have more immigrants and a more diverse racial makeup.
Therefore, “excluding undocumented immigrants from the apportionment process would give Democratic-leaning areas fewer representatives relative to Republican-leaning areas,” Litman wrote.
A Legal Challenge
However, it’s possible Trump’s order could be overturned.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit shortly after Trump signed it, arguing that it is illegal.
“The Constitution requires that everyone in the U.S. be counted in the census,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project said in a press release. “President Trump can’t pick and choose.”
The president has long been set on trying to limit undocumented immigrants’ participation in the Census.
He fought to include a question on the form asking people for their citizenship status, which activists argued would intimate immigrants and keep them from responding.
But ultimately, the Supreme Court blocked the question from being added.
“[Trump’s] latest attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities will be found unconstitutional,” Ho said. “We’ll see him in court, and win, again.”
A Push for Responses
As of Thursday, just over 59% of Arizonans had filled out the Census, with the national response rate sitting at 62%.
Community leaders have been urging Arizonans, especially Latinx and tribal populations, to participate despite difficulties like lack of internet access and language barriers.
In 2010, there was an undercount of 32,000 Latinx children in Arizona.
This is important because besides determining House seats, Census counts are also used to determine how federal funding for education, highway construction, and more is distributed.
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For each person counted in Arizona, the state receives just under $3,000 from the federal government. Leaving undocumented residents out of the Census could result in Arizona losing out on nearly $900 million in federal funding.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said an estimated 50,000 Arizona children were left out of the last Census in 2010, causing the state to lose out on money. About 32,000 of those kids were Latinx.
The deadline for responding to this year’s Census was pushed back to Oct. 31 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.