Policy Summary: On January 20, 2021 President Joe Biden issued “Executive Order On Ensuring A Lawful And Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census.” This was the second executive order President Biden signed after being inaugurated earlier in the day. The executive order in Section 5 specifically revokes President Trump’s Executive Order No. 13880 of July 11, 2019 (Collecting Information About Citizenship Status in Connection With the Decennial Census) and Presidential Memorandum of July 21, 2020 (Excluding Illegal Aliens From The Apportionment Base Following The 2020 Census).

The executive order clarifies, with reference to Constitutional language and Supreme Court precedents, that the President will submit to Congress a report with “the tabulation of total population by State that reflects the whole number of persons whose usual residence was in each State.” This differs markedly from ex – President Trump’s executive orders because it will not consider a person’s citizenship status in order for the person to be counted and will revert to the previous method of counting “whole number of persons.” LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis: President Biden’s revocation of the two actions taken by ex – President Trump is a clear rebuke from how Trump tried to politicize the activities of the process of counting persons for the decennial census. When Trump took office, the law was clear. In order to apportion seats for the House of Representatives the count of persons would be the whole number of persons without regard for a person’s immigration or citizenship status. This was the standard since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment nearly one hundred fifty years ago. But when Trump came into office he tried to appeal to those voters who were wary of immigrants and who wanted tougher anti – immigration policies. By trying to include a question on citizenship status on the census questionnaire and exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base Trump sought to do two things. First, he tried to discourage immigrants from responding to the questionnaire. Because of fear of government inquiry, immigrants who were not citizens would not be inclined to respond to any kind of government requests. The lack of participation would then skew the numbers of persons living in the State, as they would not be counted in the final state totals. This could have impacted how many representatives a State would get in the next apportionment. Second, Trump’s Presidential Memorandum took the next logical step and tried to exclude illegal aliens from being counted at all. The likely result of these actions would be an inaccurate apportionment of Representatives by State and an allocation of financial resources in areas that would not be representative of their need because of the inaccurate population count.

President Biden’s executive actions will likely reset the decennial census activities in a manner that is more reflective of how the census had been lawfully conducted in the past and distance it from the partisanship that Trump tried to inject in them. Instead of the divisive actions that sought to marginalize immigrant groups President Biden’s executive order seeks to ensure that every inhabitant of this country will have representation in the House of Representatives and that the process in counting persons and apportioning representatives reverts to the time – tested and lawful practices that had been used through the years. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – infopage on 2020 Census.

Brennan Center for Justice – infopage on group’s litigation efforts regarding the 2020 Census.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

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