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Press Release

Brennan Center Statement On Trump’s Undocumented Immigrants Exclusion

A new memorandum from the Trump administration would attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from apportionment.

July 23, 2020
Contact: Mireya Navarro, Media Contact,, 646-925-8760

Today, Pres­id­ent Trump issued a memor­andum declar­ing that it will be 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.” The memor­andum instructs the Commerce Secret­ary to provide the Pres­id­ent with data about the size of the popu­la­tion of people who are undoc­u­mented, so that Pres­id­ent can exclude them from the popu­la­tion totals used to determ­ine how many seats each state will receive in Congress this decade.

Thomas Wolf, senior coun­sel with Bren­nan’s Demo­cracy Program, said:

"The Trump Admin­is­tra­tion’s new memor­andum sets out a patently uncon­sti­tu­tional path. The Four­teenth Amend­ment to the Consti­tu­tion requires the census to count all “persons.” The Consti­tu­tion means what it says: Every­one must be coun­ted in this year’s census. Not some people—all people.

"With today’s order, Pres­id­ent Trump is ignor­ing the plain text of the Consti­tu­tion, viol­at­ing the federal govern­ment’s basic duty to ensure a full, fair, and accur­ate count, and threat­en­ing confu­sion for a census that cannot afford any more of it. In the middle of a pandemic, this illegal scheme would do noth­ing but deprive communit­ies around the coun­try of their fair share of polit­ical power and over a tril­lion dollars of federal fund­ing when they need it most for basic things like health­care and food assist­ance.

“This order is uncon­sti­tu­tional, destruct­ive, point­less, and just the latest example of the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion’s long-running and failed attempts to manip­u­late the 2020 Census. It will not stand.”


Bren­nan Center Resources: 

 Getting the Count Right

 Citizen­ship Ques­tions on the Census have no Histor­ical Pedi­gree

 A Crit­ical History of the U.S. Census & Citizen­ship Ques­tions

 Annot­ated Guide to the Amicus Briefs in the Supreme Court’s Citizen­ship Ques­tion Case


For more on the legal protec­tions against the abuse of census data, includ­ing recently collec­ted state drivers’ license data, see:

 Strong Confid­en­ti­al­ity Laws Protect All Data the Census Bureau Collects

 Federal Laws that Protect Census Confid­en­ti­al­ity

Recursos del Censo en Español