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What's At Stake For California As Supreme Court Weighs Trump's Push To Alter Census For House Seats

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Published
People gather last year at U.S. Supreme Court as the high court blocked a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the Trump Administration’s plan to exclude immigrants living in the country illegally from political representation.

Here's how NPR's Hansi Lo Wang explains the case so far:

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the Trump administration's request to speed up the appeal of a lower court ruling that is blocking the president's attempt to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census numbers used to reallocate seats in Congress.

The move sets up an expedited legal fight that includes a hearing before the high court on Nov. 30, a month before federal law says the latest state population counts for reapportioning the 435 seats in the House of Representatives among the states are due to the president. The timing increases the potential for Trump to try to make the unprecedented change to who is included in the numbers while he is in the White House.

What could this mean for Southern California? The state is home to an estimated 2 million such immigrants. So the Trump Administration's push to leave those residents out — if successful — would have major implications when Congressional seats are divided. That's because those seats are allocated according to state populations.

Claremont McKenna College researcher Doug Johnson says if that happens, California would lose the most of any state:

"California will certainly lose anywhere from one to four seats. Obviously Los Angeles and Orange and San Diego counties would be the hardest hit, because that’s where the majority of the undocumented folks are."

And that projected loss of four more seats is on top of the seats the state is already expected to give up because of our slowing population growth.

Keep in mind this is all speculative, pending a determination by the Supreme Court. The U.S. Constitution calls for a national census every 10 years and federal law specifies that the president must deliver "a statement showing the whole number of persons in each State" to Congress based on that survey.

The 2020 Census ended Thursday after a months-long legal battle. A lower court had ordered the count to continue until Oct. 31 date, but a Supreme Court decision allowed the government to stop sooner.

What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like Medi-Cal, for public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

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Every Year Armenian Americans Rally For Justice, But These Protests Are Different

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A man holds up a sign as he stands with members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) during a protest outside the Azerbaijani Consulate General in L.A. on Sept. 30. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Every year members of the Armenian diaspora push for recognition by the United States and other world powers of a genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.

During the Armenian Genocide, as much as three-fourths of the population was wiped out in massacres and forced marches to the Syrian desert, and the survivors were scattered far and wide, many ultimately settling in Southern California.

But those who have taken to the streets in recent weeks are focused on what they see as a more imminent and existential threat to their homeland and families. That's because a long-simmering conflict half a world away has boiled over into armed confrontation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the latter of which is backed by Turkey.

Salpi Ghazarian, director of the University of Southern California's Institute of Armenian Studies, explained to our culture and local news show Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, how news of Turkey's support of Azerbaijan and the rhetoric of conquest brings back traumatic memories:

"We continue to live until this last generation is dying with those memories -- very real memories of Turkish atrocities against its Armenian citizens. And now, we see Turkey and Turkish authorities repeating the same lines. And so, that trauma is being recalled and it's very raw."

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State Dems and GOP Still Dancing Around Unofficial Ballot Boxes, But Who's Dancing Lead?

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Twitter user Rebecca Albarran posted this photo on Monday of an unofficial ballot drop box outside St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Simi Valley. (Screengrab from Twitter)

California Republicans and Democrats have been performing an awkward tango all week over the GOP’s use of unofficial ballot boxes. The dancing continued today with more mixed messages coming from Democratic elected officials and state GOP leaders.

In a press conference Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra first said they have no plans for legal action against the California GOP because, they said, the party had removed the offending ballot boxes.

Despite the rhetoric in the press,” said Padilla, “the Republican Party has agreed to no longer deploy unstaffed and unsecured ballot drop boxes."

But Padilla later said in a press release that the Attorney General would be issuing subpoenas for more information from the party about the boxes.

There are still outstanding questions about the scope and practices of the Republican Party’s misleading ballot collection operation,” Padilla said in the emailed statement," later adding, “this investigation will remain on-going, and we will take further legal action as necessary.”

On Friday, during the press conference where state officials declared the ballot boxes had been removed, Republicans such as State Senator Melissa Melendez were touting the program and promising the boxes were “secure.”

California GOP spokesman Hector Barajas said:

“The Secretary of State and Attorney General didn't know the facts and didn't bother to learn them before accusing us [of breaking the law] on Monday. We can't agree to not do something we weren't doing to begin with. They could have shortened this press conference by simply saying ‘Sorry.'”

So, are the unofficial boxes still being used? Will state officials take the GOP to court? Stay tuned.

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Former Angels PR Director Indicted In Overdose Death Of Pitcher Tyler Skaggs

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Los Angeles Angels public relations employee Eric Kay is seen on left as players lay their jerseys on the pitchers mound on July 19, 2019 to honor Tyler Skaggs. (John McCoy/Getty Images)

A Texas grand jury has indicted a former PR director for the Los Angeles Angels on two federal counts in connection with the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

According to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth, the grand jury indicted Eric Kay for distributing the fentanyl that resulted in Skagg's death and for conspiring to distribute the drug.

Kay was arrested by federal authorities in early August but had not entered a plea. At that time, prosecutors said he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Texas on July 1st of last year. The Angels were staying there while in town to play the Rangers.

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Coronavirus 'Perfect Storm' Coming As People Spend More Time Inside, Restrictions Loosen

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Outbreaks can be seeded when people cluster in bars, such as this one in Sturgis, S.D., during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Coronavirus cases are rising rapidly in many states as the U.S. heads into the winter months. And forecasters predict staggering growth in infections and deaths if current trends continue.

It's exactly the kind of scenario that public health experts have long warned could be in store for the country, if it did not aggressively tamp down on infections over the summer. After hitting an all-time high in July, cases did drop significantly, but the U.S. never reached a level where the public health system could truly get a handle on the outbreak.

Now infections are on the rise again. A forecast from one of the country's leading coronavirus modeling groups projects more than 170,000 people could die from COVID-19 between now and Feb. 1, bringing the pandemic's overall death toll to nearly 390,000.

Dr. Michael Mina, a professor at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, compares the situation to a growing forest fire with small sparks all over the U.S. that will only gain strength as the weather turns colder.

Mina says he anticipates states will continue to open up just as transmissibility of the virus increases and more people spend time inside, creating "a perfect storm."

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Morning Briefing: The Things They Left Behind

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Flames and smoke overtake a tree as the LNU Lightning Complex fire continues to spread in Fairfield, California on August 19, 2020. (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Good morning, L.A.

Wildfires have ravaged California this year, smashing state records and burning over four million acres so far. Given the constant onslaught of new blazes, it can be hard to remember that for many people, life as they know it is forever altered well after the flames are put out.

That’s the case with Michael Lacroix, who told his story to my colleague Jacob Margolis. Lacroix was at home in the hills north of Palmdale in mid-August when the Lake Fire broke out. He had about an hour to choose which possessions to save before getting in his truck and driving away.

When he returned the following day, everything was gone. “There's really nothing left,” Lacroix recalls telling his son, who lived next door and also lost his home.

The future is uncertain, but Lacroix has a message for those facing similar challenges.

"It's not the end,” he told Jacob. “It can be kind of a beginning.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, October 16

LAist contributor Gabriel Dunatov has an explainer on why the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict resonates so deeply in SoCal, home to the largest Armenian community outside Armenia.

How are your favorite fast food chains spending their political money this election season? LAist contributor Stefan A. Slater takes a look at how some of your favorite burger slingers are doling out donations during the 2020 election cycle.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Equity In L.A.: The annual LTX Fest — virtual this year due to the pandemic — wants to remove barriers for Latina/os in the rapidly growing tech industry. Tashon McKeithan is the first Black woman to lead La Cañada’s Child Educational Center.

City Business: Councilman Kevin de Leon was sworn into office for the L.A. City Council District 14 vacant seat this morning. You have to move your car again for alternate street sweeping.

Money Matters: In Boyle Heights, the nine-story, Art Deco building that’s home to the flagship Sears store is now a strange mix of bustling commerce and yawning, empty space. Candidates for two local races agree that L.A. County's child care system is stressed and needs more investment, but it’s not clear how the victors in the Nov. 3 election would carve out those new funding streams.

Left Behind: According to the federal government, 99.9% of U.S. households have already been counted in the census – but that's not the whole story. Michael Lacroix lost his trailer home in the Lake Fire; here’s how he’s rebuilding his life, two months later.

Policing The Police: The nine-member Sheriff's Civilian Oversight Commission issued a unanimous resolution calling for L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva's resignation. Herb Wesson and Holly Mitchell, the candidates for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat, debated the future of law enforcement accountability and how to build more affordable housing in South L.A.

Coronavirus Updates: A judge has ordered ICE officials to reduce the detainee population at Adelanto in light of the recent COVID outbreak.

Here’s What To Do: Watch home movies made by your friends and neighbors, take a walk through Atwater Village with a friend in your ear, catch a drive-in movie at the L.A. Zoo, and more in this weekend’s best online and IRL events. Our friends at WNYC hosted an 'Audio We Love Festival,' featuring their favorite shows – including LAist Studios California Loveon their podcast Death, Sex & Money.


Photo Of The Day

The property in the hills above Palmdale where Michael Lacroix's trailer and his son's home once stood, after both were destroyed in the Lake Fire.

(Michael Lacroix)

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This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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