By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, challenging the longstanding practice of including immigrants living in the country illegally in U.S. Census counts that are used to determine congressional districts.
In the lawsuit filed Monday, Attorney General Steve Marshall argues that the predicted 2020 census numbers will cause Alabama to lose a congressional seat, and thus an electoral vote, to a state with a “larger illegal alien population.” Along with the state, U.S. Rep Mo Brooks of Alabama is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, filed against the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau.
It has been a longstanding practice to include all U.S. residents, both citizens and noncitizens, in the census, which also determines the number of congressional seats for each state. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against two Texas residents who argued their votes were diluted by the practice of using the “whole population” to draw legislative district lines.
“As the Framers of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote,” the court ruled.
Nonetheless, Alabama is seeking to have the practice declared unconstitutional. The state argues it violates existing statutes that “require a census enumeration of the total of legally present resident population.”
“Congressional seats should be apportioned based on the population of American citizens, not illegal aliens,” Brooks said in a statement. “After all, this is America, not the United Nations.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, mostly Democratic states have expressed concern that immigrants will be undercounted in the 2020 census as a result of a decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to include the question about citizenship status.
Seventeen states are seeking to have the question declared unconstitutional, based on fears that it will deter immigrants, including those in mixed-status households, from participating in the census and dilute representation in those states.