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Will Trump’s apportionment order take away an Arizona district?

By: - August 3, 2020 6:22 pm

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix on June 18, 2016. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

An order President Donald Trump issued last month to exclude immigrants without authorization to live in the country from a population count used to redistribute between states the 435 seated voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

In a statement on the July 21 order on apportionment, Trump claimed there’s an effort conceal the number of undocumented immigrants that erodes “the right of American citizens.” 

Arizona, which is expected to gain a tenth Congressional seat due to population change, wouldn’t be impacted if unauthorized immigrants are excluded from the count, according to a Pew Research analysis.

The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are 226,000 immigrants residing in Arizona who have no authorization to live in the country, and 65% of them have lived in the U.S. for 10 or more years.  

In an analysis of the Trump apportionment order, MPI estimates some 20 million U.S. citizens could be excluded from population counts because determining the immigration status of people requires the intricate sharing of datasets that leave too much room for error. 

“The process of matching the decennial Census to administrative data is too error-prone to rely on for an important constitutional responsibility such as reapportionment,” the post said. “Prior experience with matching suggests up to 20 million U.S. citizens could be excluded from this crucial exercise of American democracy. Those not matched are likely to live in low-income urban or agricultural rural areas.”

Several states, counties and cities – including Phoenix – have filed a lawsuit challenging the move by the Trump administration to exclude the immigrants from the constitutionally mandated population count. There are at least three other similar lawsuits, NPR reported

Since last July, the Trump administration has sought from federal agencies to gather databases so it can determine the number of citizens and non-citizens in the country. Census estimates show there are about 538,000 non-citizens living in Arizona, according to the 5-year American Community Survey from 2018. Non-citizens include foreign-born individuals who are green card holders (officially known as legal permanent residents), those on a work visa or another type of immigration status, and unauthorized immigrants.  

About one in five people living in legislative districts 29 and 30, which cover Phoenix’s west side neighborhoods and parts of Glendale, are non-citizens. In each of legislative districts 19, 24, 26, and 27 which make up the southwest Valley, Laveen, South and Downtown Phoenix, Tempe, and parts of Mesa, there are about 27,000 to 37,000, accounting for 12% to 16% of the district’s population. 

Non-citizens make up 10% or more of the population in three of Arizona’s nine Congressional districts. In District 7, represented by U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, 19% of the residents are non-citizens. District 3, where U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva holds a seat, is 12% non-citizen, and Rep. Greg Stanton’s District 9 has a 10% population of non-citizens. Gallego, Grijalva and Stanton are Democrats. 

Excluding immigrants without authorization to live in the U.S. adds to a tradition of not counting certain populations as whole persons. 

Originally, Black Americans who were enslaved counted as three-fifths of a person (until the Fourteenth Amendment ratified in 1868), and certain Native peoples who were not taxed were also excluded from the count. In 1940, it was determined that Native people were no longer to be considered “not taxed,” according to the Census Bureau.

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for education, immigration, political, and public safety reporting and Spanish-language news and feature reporting. Laura worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.