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New York Immigration Coal. v. Trump

The New York Immigration Coalition led a coalition of groups in a challenge to President Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the state-population totals that are produced by the 2020 Census and used for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and votes in the Electoral College.

Last Updated: February 24, 2021
Published: July 28, 2020

Note: The Bren­nan Center is not a parti­cipant in this case.


The New York Immig­ra­tion Coali­tion led a coali­tion of groups in a chal­lenge to Pres­id­ent Trump’s attempt to exclude undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the state-popu­la­tion totals that are produced by the 2020 Census and used for appor­tion­ing seats in the U.S. House of Repres­ent­at­ives and votes in the Elect­oral College. The plaintiffs argued that a July 21, 2020 White House memor­andum direct­ing the Commerce Secret­ary to report data on undoc­u­mented immig­rants to Pres­id­ent Trump viol­ates the U.S. Consti­tu­tion, the federal Census Act, and other federal law.

Case Back­ground

A coali­tion of groups repres­ent­ing immig­rant and minor­ity communit­ies sued Pres­id­ent Donald Trump, Secret­ary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the Depart­ment of Commerce, the Census Bureau, and Census Bureau Director Steven Dilling­ham, arguing that the exclu­sion of undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the 2020 Census state-popu­la­tion totals used for appor­tion­ing congres­sional seats and Elect­oral College votes is uncon­sti­tu­tional and other­wise illegal.

The plaintiffs conten­ded that the Pres­id­ent’s July 21, 2020 memor­andum on exclud­ing undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the state-popu­la­tion totals used to calcu­late the state appor­tion­ments viol­ated consti­tu­tional and stat­utory require­ments that the Pres­id­ent include all persons in the congres­sional appor­tion­ment base, irre­spect­ive of citizen­ship or immig­ra­tion status. The plaintiffs also conten­ded that the memor­andum viol­ates the consti­tu­tional right to equal protec­tion because it denies undoc­u­mented immig­rants “person­hood” under the Consti­tu­tion and was motiv­ated “by a bare desire to harm immig­rant communit­ies of color, and partic­u­larly Latinx communit­ies, by redu­cing their polit­ical clout and access to federal resources.”

The suit further argued that the Pres­id­ent’s decision to exclude undoc­u­mented immig­rants from the appor­tion­ment base without reli­able data to do so is “arbit­rary and capri­cious” under the Admin­is­trat­ive Proced­ure Act.

The plaintiffs asked the court to declare that the exclu­sion of undoc­u­mented immig­rants from congres­sional appor­tion­ment viol­ates the Consti­tu­tion and federal law. The plaintiffs also asked the court to bar the Commerce Depart­ment and the Census Bureau from trans­mit­ting any data regard­ing citizen­ship or immig­ra­tion status to the Pres­id­ent for appor­tion­ment purposes and to order the Pres­id­ent to include all resid­ents of the states, includ­ing  undoc­u­mented immig­rants, when he calcu­lates the appor­tion­ments.

On August 4, 2020 this case was consol­id­ated with New York v. Trump

On Septem­ber 10, the district court gran­ted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judg­ment and enjoined the federal govern­ment from imple­ment­ing the memor­andum.

The federal govern­ment appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

On Decem­ber 18, the Court dismissed the case on ripe­ness grounds, hold­ing that courts could not rule on the legal­ity of the memor­andum because of uncer­tain­ties about whether the Pres­id­ent would be able to imple­ment the memor­andum, and, if so, how many people he would exclude. The Court vacated the lower court’s order block­ing the federal govern­ment from imple­ment­ing the memor­andum and left a path for addi­tional litig­a­tion if the Pres­id­ent issued the reap­por­tion­ment numbers (or clari­fied his plans for the appor­tion­ment).

Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Kagan and Soto­mayor, filed a dissent­ing opin­ion contend­ing that further factual certainty was not neces­sary before courts could rule on the memor­andum’s legal­ity.

On Janu­ary 15, 2021, the district court dismissed the case in its entirety without preju­dice.

Key Docu­ments

U.S Supreme Court (Case No. 20–366)

Amicus Briefs in Support of Pres­id­ent Donald J. Trump 

Amicus Brief in Support of New York et al.