By Lisa Zengarini
The Bishops of the United States have renewed their opposition to Donald Trump’s plan not to include undocumented immigrants in the decennial population counts that will determine the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives. On July 21 the President presented a Memorandum instructing the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to exclude irregular immigrants from the state-population totals that are produced by the 2020 Census and used for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives – the lower chamber of Congress – as well determining the number of votes in the Electoral College. The State of New York and a coalition of 21 states and local governments have brought the issue to the Supreme Court, arguing that the exclusion of undocumented immigrants is unconstitutional.
The U.S Bishops support this view and in July appealed to President Trump for the withdrawal of the Memorandum. On 16 November, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), together with other Catholic organizations, filed an amicus curiae brief on the case. The brief argues that excluding undocumented persons from the apportionment base of the census sends a message that they are not equal members of the human family. This message, the Bishops maintain, is contrary to the inherent dignity of each and every human person, and also violates the United States Constitution and the Census Act.
"Human dignity is most sacred"
The Court held its first hearing on the Trump v. New York case on 30 November. Commenting on the hearing, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, reiterated: “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.”
In his statement, published on the USCCB website, Bishop Dorsonville said, “The Church’s teaching is clear: human dignity is most sacred, regardless of legal status.” For that reason, he concluded, “we once again affirm the need to count all persons in the census, as well as in the apportionment of congressional representatives.”