The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in President Donald Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from a countrywide population count that determines how congressional seats are allocated.
The country’s top court said on Friday that it would hear the case on November 30.
By that time, the court will likely have a 6-3 conservative majority, as the Republican-controlled Senate plans to confirm Trump’s nominee to the bench, Amy Coney Barrett.
Trump in July signed a presidential memorandum ordering undocumented immigrants – who recent estimates say number more than 10.5 million people across the country – be excluded from being counted when congressional districts are redrawn.
The Supreme Court justices said in their order on Friday that they would decide the issue by early January, when Trump must report the census results to Congress.
“President Trump has repeatedly tried – and failed – to weaponise the census for his attacks on immigrant communities. The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again,” Dale Ho, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) representing a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups that challenged Trump’s plan in court, said in a statement.
“The legal mandate is clear – every single person counts in the census, and every single person is represented in Congress.”
In September, the US District Court in New York rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from participating in the US Census, which is conducted every 10 years.
The census determines how $1.5 trillion in federal funding is allocated and informs the allocation of US House of Representative seats. The deadline to fill out the census form was Friday morning.
President Trump has repeatedly tried - and failed - to weaponise the census for his attacks on immigrant communities. The Supreme Court rejected his attempt last year and should do so again
The district court said that so long as they reside in the country, undocumented immigrants “qualify as ‘persons in’ a ‘state'” who must be counted.
Prominent US civil rights groups have accused the Trump administration of trying to politicise the census process for his own gain.
On Thursday, ahead of the participation deadline, Human Rights Watch warned that marginalised communities across the US risked losing access to key services should they be undercounted.
“Those most at risk for undercounting include low-income households, those who live in remote areas or who lack internet access, homeless people, Native Americans, Black people, Latinx people, and those who have fear and distrust of the government, including undocumented immigrants,” the group said.