WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — More than 60 percent of U.S. households have responded to the 2020 Census, but President Trump is still trying to exclude undocumented immigrants from the final count.
The data determines the number of seats states have in Congress and the amount of federal dollars they receive.
On Wednesday, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee cautioned the U.S. Census Bureau against following the president’s memorandum he issued last week.
“I strongly urge you not to violate federal law,” said Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-NY.
“Operations are not affected by the memorandum,” said Director Steven Dillingham. “We remain committed to counting every person in the right place and only once.”
Dillingham said his bureau will examine ways to follow the president’s directive but wouldn’t say if he agrees with four of his predecessors who told the committee that the memo violates the Constitution and existing federal law.
“I have to beg off,” he said. “I cannot answer or even give my personal views.”
Dillingham would only say he wasn’t involved in drafting the memo.
Census responses are completely confidential, but Democrats worry President Trump’s directive will throw off already troubled efforts to get a good count during the pandemic.
On the other hand, House Oversight Republicans, like Rep. Gary Palmer, R-AL, criticized the policy of counting every single person in the country.
“About 40 percent of the people who are here illegally won’t even be here for the next census,” Palmer said. “These are not people who will be here to participate in our government in any form or fashion.”
Rep. Mark Green, R-TN, argued including undocumented immigrants dilutes the votes of U.S. citizens.
“If an illegal immigrant can vote then what’s the point in citizenship?,” Green asked. “Why not have France just vote in our elections?”
Multiple lawsuits against the president’s memo are still pending.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court tossed the Trump administration’s attempt to include a citizenship question on the census forms.
This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and WKRN.com for updates.