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California Sues Trump Over Census Memo Aimed At Excluding Immigrants Who Lack Legal Status From Political Representation

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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California and several other local plaintiffs, including the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach, are suing President Trump to block his administration’s recent memo aimed at excluding immigrants here without legal permission from political representation.

The memo targets reapportionment. That's the process of determining how many seats each state is allotted in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Constitution mandates that calculation be based on total state population, but the administration wants to include only people with legal resident status.

California’s lawsuit challenging this policy was filed independently from a complaint submitted by New York and 19 other states last Friday. In a press conference today, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra explained this decision to fight the Trump administration separately. Becerra said:

“There’s no state, no area in the county hit harder, hit faster by this [memo], than California. We will defend every single inch of ground in California and every single person in our state because the law requires it.”

Becerra’s complaint points out that the Trump memorandum seems to target California specifically in defending the exclusionary policy.
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The Trump memo states:

“Current estimates suggest that one State is home to more than 2.2 million illegal aliens, constituting more than 6 percent of the State's entire population. Including these illegal aliens in the population of the State for the purpose of apportionment could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated.”

The complaint filed by California, several local cities, and LAUSD claims that Trump’s memo would cause harm to the state by cutting the number of representatives allotted to Congress, and by stifling census participation.

Already, California stands to lose up to two seats simply based on population changes.

Becerra and the other plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against Trump’s policy. The brief argues that the memo violates the 14th Amendment, which states, “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

Becerra also argues that the memo doesn’t carry any legal weight.

“It’s not an executive order,” Becerra said. “He put together a memorandum, cut and pasted some language in there that looked pretty good, and tried to call it law.”


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