The Trump administration tried for years to include a citizenship question in a key census count to benefit Republicans, according to a new report released Wednesday from the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The report, based on a trove of memos and secret emails, confirms speculation that the Trump administration hoped to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment count.
“Today’s Committee memo pulls back the curtain on this shameful conduct and shows clearly how the Trump Administration secretly tried to manipulate the census for political gain while lying to the public and Congress about their goals,” Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, chair of the House oversight committee, said in a statement. “It is clear that legislative reforms are needed to prevent any future illegal or unconstitutional efforts to interfere with the census and chip away at our democracy.”
The once-a-decade census counts state population numbers, which are then used to decide how many Congressional seats each state is assigned.
The Trump administration argued the citizenship question was necessary to protect the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The U.S. Supreme Court finally blocked the administration from including the question in 2019, calling the reason for it “contrived”.
Excluding undocumented immigrants from the census count would favor Republicans by removing one congressional seat each from California, Florida, and Texas, according to a 2020 Pew Research report.