NEW YORK – Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has strongly condemned United States President Donald J. Trump’s executive order directing the federal government not to count undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants when allocating congressional districts based on the 2020 Census.
“In a desperate attempt to further stack the electoral deck in his favour in blatant disregard of our Constitutional history, 45 has made yet another naked attempt to suppress the response rate for the census,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
“The Constitution clearly states that the enumeration process must include ‘the whole number of free persons’, meaning all people within the country must be counted,” added Clarke, the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
“Instead of following the dictates of our foundational legal document, this administration has instead chosen to rely upon the judgement of an impeached president, who has already been credibly accused of violating the law in order to secure his hold on power.
“The executive order in question holds no real legal weight, as it completely flies in the face of centuries of practice and jurisprudence mandating that all people be counted.
“Unless they plan on arguing that the undocumented fall into the category of ‘all other persons’ worthy of a 3/5th count – a similarly reprehensible and callously racist position in line with their past actions – they do not have a leg to stand on in any court of law,” Clarke said.
The Congresswoman said that “we should see this powerless piece of paper for what it is: a campaign stunt aimed directly at his base of deplorables clinging to the last vestiges of white supremacy in America.”
In the Executive Order, Trump wrote “I have accordingly determined that respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process warrant the exclusion of illegal aliens (immigrants) from the apportionment base, to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the president’s discretion under the law.”
A subsequent White House “Fact Sheet,” said that Trump is “issuing a memorandum clarifying that illegal aliens are not to be included for the purpose of apportionment of representatives following the 2020 Census.
“This follows the president’s order directing the federal government to collect the information needed to ensure that accurate citizenship data is compiled in connection with the census,” it said, noting that “giving congressional representation and political influence to illegal aliens – people who have blatantly disregarded our laws – would be a perversion of our democratic principles.
“Allowing illegal aliens to be counted for the purpose of apportionment could also create perverse incentives – such as potentially rewarding states that encourage violations of federal immigration law – that would undermine our system of government,” the statement said, adding “President Trump will never allow our democracy to be eroded by giving congressional representation to illegal aliens when the Constitution does not require it”.
Political pundits and legal analysts have characterized Trump’s latest move as a clear political ploy aimed at aiding Republicans in violation of the US Constitution.
They said that the executive order would prevent millions of residents from being counted when allocating the number of congressional seats each state would receive based on the census.
New York Attorney General Letitia James vowed to sue the president again if he does not rescind his “illegal presidential memorandum.
“No one ceases to be a person because they lack documentation,” said James in a statement shortly after Trump issued the executive order. “Under the law, every person residing in the US during the census, regardless of status, must be counted.
“We beat the president before in court, and we’ll challenge him once again on the census,” she added. “We will continue to lead this fight, because we will not allow the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies to tip the balance of power in the nation.”
A year ago, in light of a joint lawsuit by James and other states’ attorneys general, the US Supreme Court ruled against Trump in prohibiting him from adding a citizenship question to the census on the grounds that its apparent reasoning “seems to have been contrived.”
Since then, the Trump administration has been seeking to gather information on illegal immigrants via different ways, such as driver’s licenses files.