In Order to Protect Principle that Undocumented Residents Are “Persons” Under the Constitution
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Last week the County of Santa Clara sought permission to intervene in a federal lawsuit to defend the U.S. Census Bureau’s longstanding practice of counting all people, regardless of immigration status, in the United States Census. The lawsuit filed by the State of Alabama takes the shocking position that undocumented community members are not “persons” under certain constitutional provisions and should not be counted in the 2020 decennial Census. The County’s motion to intervene, joined by the City of San José and other local governments, is designed to protect basic constitutional principles of equity and representative government, as well as the roughly $500 million in census-based funding that the County receives annually to serve all its residents.
“People are people, regardless of their immigration status,” said County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian. “We have to push back against efforts to deprive Santa Clara County and its residents of the state and federal funding to which we are entitled and political representation commensurate with our population—our entire population.”
“The Constitution is absolutely clear—immigration status is irrelevant to whether our community members are ‘persons,’” said County Counsel James R. Williams. “Alabama’s claim that some residents are not ‘people’ flies in the face of this nation’s founding principles and evokes a dark and immoral past. Santa Clara County will not stand idly by but will fight to ensure that every person is counted.”
Alabama’s lawsuit, which was brought against the U.S. Census Bureau, seeks to prevent the Bureau from counting undocumented individuals in the 2020 decennial count of all individuals residing in the United States. Alabama claims that undocumented individuals should not be counted because they are not “persons” within the meaning of the constitutional provisions that govern political representation and the Census. Because the Census count is used for allocation of federal funding and political representation, including allocation of representatives in the Electoral College and United States House of Representatives, a failure to count all County residents could have a profound impact on the County and its communities.
The Trump Administration has demonstrated through its policies and rhetoric that it cannot be trusted to adequately protect the rights of all people; the County’s participation therefore is essential to upholding the rights of undocumented people and the states and local jurisdictions they call home. The County’s motion seeks permission to intervene in the lawsuit to ensure that every community member who calls Santa Clara County home is counted in the critical 2020 decennial Census.