The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement Tuesday criticizing President Donald Trump’s memorandum that would bar undocumented people from being counted toward reapportionment in the 2020 census.
“Let’s make one thing clear: President Trump does not have the authority to order the census to exclude certain communities,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the SPLC’s Action Fund, which works on legislative issues. “The Constitution requires that we count every person in the country. His order is not only unlawful and unconstitutional, it’s also extremely harmful to millions of people living in the United States. President Trump is once again abusing his position of power to assault our immigrant communities.”
Huang said the memo will cause widespread confusion and deter people from participating in the census, affecting how political representation and resources are allocated in Alabama and across the country.
“Census data helps communities plan how many doctors they need, where schools need to grow and where roads need to be built, among other vital resources. In the middle of a pandemic, President Trump is trying to make it harder for communities to respond to emergencies for the next decade,” she said.
It’s not clear how census workers would determine who is a citizen and who is a non-citizen because census workers are prohibited from asking citizenship questions. Trump’s memorandum doesn’t include how his order could be fulfilled.
Legal experts have called the move unconstitutional and predicted that it would likely not withstand a court battle, which it is expected to face.
The SPLC vowed to continue working to make sure everyone is counted.