Montgomery, AL – Latino voters and a grassroots organization will be allowed to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit filed by the State of Alabama that seeks to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census count of all persons in the United States, a federal court ruled today.
U.S. District Court Judge P. David Proctor’s ruling comes five months after MALDEF, along with Birmingham attorneys James U. Blacksher and Edward Still, filed a motion to intervene on behalf of individuals living in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, citing concerns that the Trump administration would not adequately defend the existing law.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit, filed by Alabama for illegitimate political reasons,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. “Shamefully, however, the Trump administration cannot be trusted to adequately defend even this wholly unsupportable suit; intervention was necessary to prevent a collusive resolution against the public interest.”
The Enumeration Clause of the Constitution requires a decennial count of all persons residing in the United States. The Constitution further mandates the apportionment of congressional districts based on total population.
“The Trump administration set out to deprive immigrants and their families of their constitutionally protected right to political representation by manipulating the census questionnaire to erase them from the census rolls,” said Denise M. Hulett, MALDEF National Senior Counsel. “It is therefore no wonder that the federal government cannot be expected to disagree with Alabama in its quest to do the same thing. These moves are consistent with the anti-immigrant vitriol that has characterized this administration’s every move.”
In granting MALDEF’s request, Judge Proctor noted that the “decision to permit intervention in this case is particularly significant in light of Defendants ‘rather halfhearted Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction.’” He added that allowing intervention “will increase the prospect that the court will be more fully informed of the best arguments that support Defendants ‘position.’”
Today’s ruling comes amid rising concern over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census that could lead to a severe undercount.
The federal government is facing several lawsuits over the citizenship question, including one filed in May by MALDEF and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) asserting that it was motivated by racial animus and a government conspiracy to deny the equal protection rights of communities of color.
A hearing in that Census case is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 in Maryland.
Read today’s ruling here.