President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a memorandum that would prevent migrants who are in the United States illegally from being counted when U.S. congressional voting districts are redrawn in the next round of redistricting.
U.S. Census experts and lawyers say the action is legally dubious. In theory, it would benefit Trump's Republican Party by eliminating the largely non-white population of migrants in the U.S. illegally, creating voting districts that skew more Caucasian.
"Including these illegal aliens in the population of the State for the purpose of apportionment could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated," the memo said.
Proponents of citizens-only voting districts argue each vote should carry the same weight. If one district has far fewer eligible voters than another, they say, each vote there has more influence on election outcomes.
But the move carries major legal questions, and will probably draw litigation.
The U.S. Constitution explicitly says congressional apportionment should be based on the "whole number of persons" in each state. Multiple federal laws have reinforced that reading.
"All of this makes Trump's position outrageous," said Joshua Geltzer, a constitutional law expert and professor at Georgetown Law, adding that the move will almost certainly be met with litigation.
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