~ by Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service
Washington – In oral arguments on November 30, the Supreme Court weighed in on President Donald Trump’s order to exclude immigrants living in the country illegally from the 2020 census for purposes of redrawing congressional districts.
The justices, who heard arguments in Trump v. New York by teleconference, questioned the scope of those who would be excluded and also the length of time it would take to undergo this “monumental task,” as Justice Samuel Alito described it.
During the 90-minute arguments, Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued a statement: “Denying the undocumented and the states in which they reside their rightful representation in Congress is counter to the Constitution and makes people feel invisible and not valued as human beings.”
“The church’s teaching is clear: Human dignity is most sacred, regardless of legal status,” he said. “For that reason, we once again affirm the need to count all persons in the census, as well as in the apportionment of congressional representatives.”
The USCCB, along with other Catholic organizations, also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case, arguing that excluding those without legal documentation from the apportionment base of the census sends a message that these individuals are not equal members of the human family, which contradicts the dignity of all people and violates the U.S. Constitution and the Census Act.
Since the census started in 1790, its practice has been to count all people living in the U.S.
The point of counting everyone was raised by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who told Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall, who was representing the Trump administration: “A lot of the historical evidence and long-standing practice really cuts against your position.”
After President Trump issued his order on excluding unauthorized immigrants, the chairmen of two USCCB committees described the action as “simply wrong and divisive.” They urged him to rescind it and make “efforts to protect and heal our nation and all who are living in our country.”
Catholic groups advocating for immigrant communities similarly expressed displeasure.
“This is nothing but an unconstitutional and xenophobic attempt to weaponize the census to silence and scare immigrants. The immigrant community will not be silenced,” tweeted Cabrini Immigrant Services of New York City back in July.
The Hope Border Institute tweeted: “The Constitution says the Census must count everyone, no exceptions.”