LULAC: Trump order on undocumented residents will harm Iowa, ‘is wrong in every way there is’

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office on March 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s executive order Tuesday omitting undocumented immigrants from census data used for reapportionment will harm Iowa and “is wrong in every way there is,” a leader of a group representing Iowa Latinos said. 

A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley, however, said the order might help Iowa gain seats in Congress.

Joe Henry, political director of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa (LULAC), said Trump’s stance is unprecedented, and will hurt states such as Iowa that have significant immigrant populations. The immigrants are paying taxes. Denying them a role in the calculations that set apportionments, which may also cost local governments aid based on population, is morally wrong, Henry said.

“It’s an attack, a ploy, a vicious engineering maneuver to not count our community or other communities who have immigrants. Rarely if ever has this happened that undocumented immigrants aren’t counted,” Henry said.

Without immigration, Iowa would have lost population over the last 15 years, Henry added.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the order “patently unconstitutional.” Former Drake Law School Dean David Walker, an NAACP leader in Iowa, said the order is on shaky legal ground and will be reversed before it has an effect if Trump loses to former Vice President Joe Biden in November’s election.

Trump “seems to be saying that people who aren’t citizens aren’t people,” Walker said. “It’s never been that way.”

Reapportionment is the process that decides how many representatives states get in Congress, based on population. Trump’s order omits from the census data used for reapportionment those individuals who lack “lawful immigration status.”

Many immigrants are only temporarily undocumented because their visa expired and they are seeking a new one, and some are close to becoming citizens, Henry said. To deny them a spot in the census used to determine the political and financial future of a state “is wrong in every way,” he added.

In a statement, Trump said he was making good on a promise to “determine the citizenship status of the United States population.”

“There used to be a time when you could proudly declare, ‘I am a citizen of the United States,’” Trump said.

“But now, the radical left is trying to erase the existence of this concept and conceal the number of illegal aliens in our country,” Trump said. “This is all part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of Americans citizens, and I will not stand for it. Today’s action to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base reflects a better understanding of the Constitution and is consistent with the principles of our representative democracy.” 

Giving undocumented residents representation in Congress would “create perverse incentives and undermine our system of government,” Trump said. ” Just as we do not give political power to people who are here temporarily, we should not give political power to people who should not be here at all.” 

Michael Zona, a spokesman for Grassley, said Trump’s order could help Iowa’s position in attaining seats in Congress. 

“Presumably, the executive order will be litigated and its constitutionality ultimately decided by the courts,” Zona said. “Iowa has a lower than average population of illegal immigrants per capita versus other states. So Iowa could stand to benefit as our system of government allocates seats to states based on their proportion of the national population.”

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, declined to comment. Former GOP Secretary of State Matt Schultz worked to purge state voter rolls of undocumented immigrants. 

GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration has agreed to share Iowa driver’s license and state identification data with the federal government so federal officials can confirm the citizenship status of residents, the Des Moines Register reported.