On Thursday, three federal judges in Northern California ruled that President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to not include those in the country illegally in the 2020 Census is illegal, becoming the second state to halt the Order.
A three judge panel comprising of 9th Circuit Judge Richard Clifton and U.S. District Court Judges Lucy Koh and Edward Chen said that President Trump’s order violated the Constitution, with State of California V. Donald Trump now joining a New York court ruling that is currently scheduled to go before the U. S. Supreme Court.
“The policy which the Presidential Memorandum attempts to enact has already been rejected by the Constitution, the applicable statutes, and 230 years of history,” wrote the three judges in a unanimous opinion. “It seeks to do what Congress has not authorized and what the President does not have the power to do.”
“There is nothing to keep the President from requesting information from [Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross], including, we assume, the population by state excluding undocumented immigrants. But information provided by the Secretary based on whatever sources does not make the data from the decennial census. If it is not, it cannot be used for apportionment.”
Currently, there are more than 2 million illegal immigrants in California out of a total population of 40 million. If the President’s order prevails, California could be at risk of losing one or two Congressional seats, as well as the same number of electoral votes starting with the 2024 presidential election.
Reaction from those for and against the ruling
Supporters of allowing illegal immigrants to be counted in the Census praised the courts decision on Friday, noting that despite their illegal status, they still live and work in the state and play a part in society.
“They pay taxes, they rent apartments, they have their kids go to school,” explained one immigration lawyer in an interview with the Globe. “They do things that affect communities overall, so they need to be included in the count so that these communities get the funds.
“I know the Census butchered California and pretty much the entire west coast this year. They really did a horrible job. Worst job on record. I know a lot of immigrant groups who want Census officials fired for severely allowing an undercount to happen. But they also need every person counted as each person is about $2,000 worth of funding for a city.
“So not only are they important because of their contributions, but every person also brings in money.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who led the California lawsuit, also noted their victory.
“A complete, accurate census count is critical for ensuring Californians are heard in Congress — and that we get the resources we need to protect the health and well-being of our communities,” noted Becerra.
Supporters of the Executive Order, who says that, as non-citizens, they shouldn’t be counted in the total, were disheartened by the ruling on Thursday but with many expressing that it wasn’t unexpected.
“It was a northern California court, meaning San Francisco, going against the Trump administration on an immigration-based issue,” noted Pedro Montez, an immigration lawyer in San Diego, to the Globe. “Of course it was going to happen. What everyone does now is appeal that decision.”
Similar court cases are currently being heard in Maryland, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia, the with the U.S. Supreme Court currently hearing the New York case against Trump at the end of next month.
The Trump Administration is currently appealing California’s decision, sending a notice of appeal to the U.S. District Court of Northern California less than 24 hours after the decision.
“It’s not over,” added Montez.