Jul. 23, 2020 12:56 pm

The memo barring immigrants from being included in the Census is ‘further motivation to be counted’

Local orgs weigh in on the constitutionality of Trump's "Memorandum On Excluding Illegal Aliens From the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census," and step up efforts to get city residents to participate in the Census.

Will González, the executive director of Ceiba, working at the Ceiba office on Feb. 18, 2020.

(Photo by Erin Blewett for Kensington Voice)

On July 21, the Trump administration issued a memorandum ordering the exclusion of undocumented persons in any apportionment following the 2020 Census.

“Excluding these illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of Government” than including them, the memorandum states.

Unsurprisingly, many individuals and organizations disagree.

“The Constitution mandates that every person living in the United States must be counted,” said Sundrop Carter, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), in an emailed statement. “There are no exceptions based on immigration status. In fact, last year the Supreme Court rejected the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census. This memo is yet another attempt by this President to promote his hateful and xenophobic agenda.”

Will Gonzalez, the executive director of Ceiba and chair of the Immigrant and Limited English Proficient Population Subcommittee of Philadelphia’s Complete Count Committee, is undaunted by the memo and says bring it on.

“This is further motivation to be counted,” he told Generocity.

“[The President] is trying to shift the focus away from the public health crisis,” he added, “but the Constitution is clear. Everyone is to be counted. So, yes, my reaction is that the memo is a great motivator.”

Earlier this year Gonzalez told Kensington Voice that completing the Census provides a sense of belonging and civic participation for immigrants and people with limited English proficiency. “It’s really important because it’s validation of our presence,” González said.

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Mayor Jim Kenney and Stephanie Reid, the executive director of Philly Counts 2020, released a statement the day the memorandum was issued that not only condemned the memo, but offered assurances to Philadelphia’s immigrant community.

“This new barrier for the 2020 Census will be challenged in court,” their statement read. “Immigration and diversity are part of our strengths as a country. Philadelphia will continue welcoming, celebrating, and fighting for the rights of our undocumented immigrants and their families. Rest assured, we will not allow the Trump administration to erase you. We encourage every Philadelphian to participate in the 2020 Census.”

Organizations like Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Southwest CDC and South Kensington Community Partners are stepping up to raise Census participation in the city — which stands a little above 50% at the moment.


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