Trump’s directive contradicts previous statements from administration officials that they were never seeking to exclude immigrants from the census or from congressional apportionment, a statement from Maloney’s office said.
“This action directly violates the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress, and it appears to be a blatant attempt to politicize the 2020 Census, depress participation, and undermine its accuracy,” Maloney wrote in the invitation letters.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement, administer or enforce the president’s plan. The bill has 48 co-sponsors.
“President Trump’s latest attack on our hard-working immigrant communities is outrageous and must be stopped,” Meng said in a statement. “It not only advances his anti-immigrant agenda but seeks to undermine the census. Under the law, everyone in the U.S. must be counted, not just those who he wants to count.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the directive and may ask for an emergency stay, said Dale Ho, an ACLU attorney who successfully argued in the Supreme Court last year against the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the census.
Although the directive is “patently unconstitutional,” he said, immediate action may be necessary to stop it, because the message it sends could negatively affect the underway 2020 Census.
“It’s already difficult to get non-citizens and immigrants to respond,” he said. “This is not an inquiry into their status, but it conveys a xenophobic, anti-immigrant sentiment. . . . For the purposes of getting an accurate census, a message like this from the White House couldn’t come at a worse time.”
The Census Bureau and Commerce Department did not immediately respond to questions about the meeting.