Every 10 years, data from the census is used to determine each state’s representation in Congress and federal funding.
The Trump administration wants illegal immigrants to be excluded from the census figures and it’s a matter that’s currently before the Supreme Court. As the Washington Examiner reported Monday, it’s not yet clear how the justices will rule.
At issue is what requirements are imposed by by Section 2 of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which reads, “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.”
“If an undocumented person has been in the country for, say, 20 years, even if illegally, why would such a person not have a settled residence?” asked Justice Amy Coney Barrett, according to the Examiner.
Wait for more data
Justice Samuel Alito noted that the effects on apportionment and funds would depend on how many illegal immigrants would be excluded from the census numbers.
“If I just take the numbers from the district court and D.C.’s opinion last week, they say the plaintiffs, in that case, were claiming there were 10.5 million people in this country who would be counted as being here illegally, but if you look at the small number of those who are held in detention facilities, it is something like 60,000,” Alito said.
“The first number could easily change the apportionment of representatives,” he pointed out. “The second one is much more doubtful that it would change the apportionment of the representatives.”
The Examiner reported that this uncertainty led some of the justices to suggest the case should not be addressed until hard numbers become available.
Available evidence insufficient
Acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall argued that the information currently available is insufficient, NBC News reported.
“Career experts at the Census Bureau confirmed with me that they still don’t know even roughly how many illegal aliens they will be able to identify, let alone how their number and geographic concentration may affect apportionment,” Wall said.
“Based on my understanding from the Census Bureau, there is a real prospect that the numbers will not affect the apportionment,” he added.
The U.S. Census Bureau is scheduled to submit its report to the White House on Dec. 31 and will become available to the states for redistricting on March 31.