There are many reasons why the White House’s announcement last week that it would exclude unauthorized immigrants counted in the 2020 census from population data used to divvy up House seats among the states is terrible: It’s racist. It’s unconstitutional. It changes rules months into a massive data collection effort made harder by a pandemic. It upends a practice used for decades. And it’s impossible.

How in the next five months can census workers come up with a formula that survives legal scrutiny that arbitrarily declares a certain percentage of people in a state to be unauthorized? They can’t.

Just last year the Supreme Court struck down President Trump’s earlier effort to discourage unauthorized immigrants from participating in the census by including a citizenship question. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Trump administration failed to meet its obligation under federal law to show the policy change had been ordered after careful deliberation.

Trump’s executive order shows zero deliberation.


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