Finally, good news for Alabama regarding the 2020 U.S. Census. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would exclude illegal immigrants from being counted in congressional districts when district lines are redrawn next year.
For over two years, the Yellowhammer State has worried about the implications of the 2020 Census — whether or not the Census Bureau‘s “unlawful” decision to include illegal immigrants in the census would be “used to determine the apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Electoral College.” A decision that would likely cause Alabama to lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as a vote in the Electoral College.
In May 2018, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall led the charge on this issue when he filed suit against the U.S. Census Bureau arguing Alabamians would lose their right to equal representation if illegal aliens were counted. Marshall also testified before Congress on this issue in June 2018.
Trump’s new executive order will ensure Alabama’s representation will go unscathed due to the impact of the influx of illegal immigrants in other states across the country.
“I applaud President Trump for taking decisive action today to protect the integrity of the Census by ensuring that only legal residents of the United States be counted,” said Marshall. “When the states’ Congressional seats and Electoral College votes are divided up, representation should be based on those people who reside in their states and this country lawfully.”
He continued, “A contrary result would rob the State of Alabama and its legal residents of their rightful share of representation and undermine the rule of law. If people are in our country in violation of federal law, why should the states in which they reside benefit from such violations of federal law?”
In a June 5, 2019 ruling, Judge R. David Proctor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama denied the federal government’s attempt to dismiss Alabama’s lawsuit, and the lawsuit has continued to proceed in federal court. In September 2019, fifteen Democrat-led states, along with the District of Columbia, intervened in the lawsuit in opposition to Alabama.
Further impact of the Census
A study by George Washington University indicates the U.S. government returned more than $1,567 to the state in 2015 for every Alabamian counted in the last census. More than 100 federal programs use data collected during census counts as part of their formulas to distribute billions of dollars in federal funding to the states. Those programs include Medicaid, Medicare Part B, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Highway Planning and Construction, and Title 1 Grants to Local Education Agencies. Census-derived data also is used to allocate seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and in legislative redistricting.
“The stakes are high for Alabama in the 2020 U.S. Census, and our success depends greatly on our ability to help Alabamians understand the importance of completing and submitting their census forms,” Ivey said. “When we all do our duty, we ensure that the state gets our fair share of funding for dozens of critical programs and ensure we maintain fair representation in Congress.”