The new system of sharing information between the departments is to comply with President Trump’s executive order after the Supreme Court rejected an attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
In Department of Commerce v. New York, the Supreme Court remanded the department’s decision to include the question on the census, effectively saying that if the administration wanted to reinstate the question, they would need to provide better reasoning for the inclusion than their argument that it would help the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.
Some legal experts argued that the Supreme Court ruling left room for the president to continue with an executive order to place a citizenship question on the census.
Led by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21), 19 congressional Republicans sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General urging them to include the census question.
“Despite claims to the contrary, citizenship is unquestionably germane to carrying out our duty to apportion representatives,” reads the letter. “Setting aside the fact it remains an unsettled question as to whether states can, in fact, use citizenship data in redistricting, the 14th Amendment demands that we take into account citizenship in allocation of representation.”
Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1) and Michael Cloud (R-TX-27) were the other two members of the Texas delegation to sign the letter.
Despite their calls, President Trump decided to take a different route and issue the order for several executive agencies to provide their information regarding illegal immigrants with the Department of Commerce.
The data to be shared will primarily come from the department’s three branches related to immigration: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Other executive agencies that are required under the order to provide information to Commerce includes the Department of State, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
While changes in the apportionment of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on residency and includes both citizens and non-citizens, regardless of their immigration status, a federal court case still has the potential to change that.
A pending lawsuit from the State of Alabama and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) against the Department of Commerce is challenging the Census Bureau’s “Residence Rule.”
If courts rule favorable toward Alabama, the results would have major implications on the reapportionment of congressional seats across the country and especially in Texas.
While current national population estimates mean that each congressional district after the 2020 census will be redrawn into ideal populations of about 756,000, if conservative estimates of illegal immigrants residing in the United States are taken out of the picture, the ideal district size will fall to about 731,000.
For Texas, it would mean gaining one congressional seat after the census instead of the projected gain of two seats—assuming that 1.6 million illegal immigrants residing in the state is an accurate estimate.
Other states that are already projected to lose seats and have a high concentration of illegal immigrants, including California and New York, would lose even more seats.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.