L.A. joins lawsuit to demand census count of undocumented people for representation

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the state of California, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the cities of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland to demand the federal government include undocumented immigrants in the census count to determine congressional representatives and boundaries.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said President Donald Trump's memorandum on apportionment of representatives would discount the number of undocumented people in each state compared to the population counted in the 2020 U.S. Census.

RELATED: Trump excluding those in US illegally from reapportionment

"You can't be a law-and-order president if you keep breaking the law," Becerra said. "This latest attack on the census is just that, it's unlawful. President Trump still believes he can sidestep the U.S. Constitution. A complete, accurate census count is critical to ensure we get the congressional representation and resources we have a right to. For Californians who haven't filled out the census, get to it. Make your voice heard."

The plaintiffs say the federal lawsuit is aimed at stopping the Trump administration from "circumventing the Constitution and alter the Census' centuries-old process on apportionment, which determines congressional representation."

The presidential memorandum states that the census is intended to count all people who reside in the U.S. as citizens and that appropriation shouldn't take into account people who are not citizens.

"I have accordingly determined that respect for the law and protection of the integrity of the democratic process warrant the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base, to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the President's discretion under the law," the order signed by Trump states.

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"We must call this what it is -- another unconstitutional power grab by a president desperate to shift political influence away from places where many immigrants live," Feuer said. "It didn't work when he tried to force an unlawful citizenship question into the census, and it won't work now.

"We're joining in taking him on again because the stakes for Los Angeles are so high. Fortunately, the Constitution couldn't be more clear. When it comes to political representation, every person, regardless of immigration status, counts."

The attorneys said the memorandum ignores that the framers of the U.S. Constitution required that each state's representation in Congress reflect all persons regardless of their eligibility to vote, including children, women and the "entire immigrant population not naturalized."

Becerra said because an accurate count will determine California's share of federal funding for crucial programs and services -- money that comes back from the hundreds of billions of dollars that California pays every year --  it's essential that Californians not be discouraged from taking part in the census.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline to complete the U.S. Census has been extended to Oct. 31. Mayor Eric Garcetti recently said a little more than half, about 52%, of Angelenos have completed the Census so far.