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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