The Partnership for America’s Children is appalled by the President’s July 21st unconstitutional memorandum mandating the exclusion of undocumented individuals from the decennial census apportionment data. This will hurt children—citizen children, documented children, and undocumented children—because it will discourage family members from responding to the Census.
When families respond to the Census and count everyone in their households, it means more federal money for their states and communities for schools, for health care, for child care, and for many other programs that help children thrive. It means local governments have better information to plan for things like the number of children in schools or how many families need health care. And it means their community gets fully represented in Congress, in state legislatures, in county councils, and on school boards.
Over six million children live in households with at least one undocumented immigrant adult who may be deterred by this memorandum from completing the Census. The Partnership encourages everyone living in the United States to fill out the decennial census to ensure their community has the information it needs to plan for the future and to make sure the community receives all the federal funds that it is entitled to receive.
The decennial census does not ask for citizenship status or the legal status of an immigrant and the information it collects is covered by strict confidentiality laws; anyone releasing that information can go to prison for up to five years or pay a fine of up to $250,000. The President’s memorandum leaves the confidentiality law unchanged. Personal information still must remain confidential, and the decennial census questions still do not ask about citizenship or immigration status.
Rather, the President is ordering the Census Bureau to use other data sources to edit the decennial census files that will be used for apportioning congressional representation by removing individuals that appear to be undocumented. While this is clearly unconstitutional since the Constitution requires Congressional apportionment to be based on an actual enumeration, and while it violates the federal law that sets forth how apportionment data should be collected and tabulated, it is important for everyone to understand that the memorandum does not require or allow the release of individual information.