Presidential Memorandum Would Hurt Rural Areas, Red States

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This afternoon President Trump issued a memorandum to the Secretary of Commerce to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census apportionment count, which determines the number of House seats for each state. 

If the memorandum is implemented, regions with large immigrant populations could lose substantial amounts of federal funding as well as congressional representation — including Republican-leaning states that have experienced disproportionately large increases in immigrant populations. Rural areas where immigration has bolstered economic growth and mitigated population decline also stand to lose out if such a rule is implemented.

Of the 10 states with the greatest percentage increases in immigrant population from 2010 to 2016, eight voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Banning any residents from the census count in those states would put millions of Americans who voted for President Trump at a disadvantage. 

“Aside from the likely legal and implementation challenges, excluding undocumented immigrants from the census apportionment will have a perhaps less intended impact: It will hurt Trump voters,” said Jacinta Ma, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at the National Immigration Forum. “There’s an assumption that an undercount of immigrant populations will negatively impact blue states, but the reality is that rural communities and red states will also be underrepresented and underfunded. Today’s memorandum will undermine their future success.

“In 2018, the National Immigration Forum assessed the impact of a potential undercount amid the Trump administration’s attempts to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Whereas a citizenship question on the census would have made such an undercount likely, this unworkable and legally questionable memorandum would require it.” 

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