SCOTUS Agrees to Fast-Track Review of the Exclusion of Undocumented Immigrants on 2020 Census

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Oct 20, 2020

The White House has been trying to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census count for months, but the Supreme Court issued a statement on October 16 saying that it will review the legality of the motion on November 30.

When the administration issued the presidential memoranda on July 21, it stated that its goal was to limit the number of undocumented immigrants who could be counted for the purpose of tallying congressional seats over the next decade.

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 under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.), to the maximum extent feasible and consistent with the discretion delegated to the executive branch.  

On September 10, judges from the state of New York ruled that President Donald Trump’s memorandum was an “unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the President by statute” and that the Census counts people who “reside in the United States,” whether they are documented citizens or not. The administration immediately appealed to the high court, who then scheduled the end of November to deliberate whether to affirm or dismiss the memorandum.

When the Supreme Court agreed to end an extension to the census count on October 15 because of COVID-19, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion that “Trump announced his intent to exclude undocumented immigrants from the population base for congressional apportionment,” and that “the harms caused by rushing this year’s census count are irreparable. And respondents will suffer their lasting impact for at least the next 10 years.”

With the White House’s appeal heading to the Supreme Court on November 30, states will have about one month to get their population counts to the Census Bureau, which then will deliver the final tabulation to the president by December 31.