The United States census is one of the most important tools that our government has to help ensure fair representation and support for all of its residents. However, the census only works if everyone is counted regardless of their immigration status. 

Getting a complete census count is extremely important. The Constitution requires that every 10 years there be a count of the entire U.S. population. This count allows states to draw congressional districts and state legislative districts that contain roughly equal population sizes. The population count from the census also determines how hundreds of billions of dollars in state and federal funding are allocated. Therefore, an undercount of the population can lead to a region or state receiving less governmental representation and fewer funds for highways, schools, hospitals and much more. 

Instead of striving to count every American, President Donald Trump has actively tried to prevent a complete count of the population by ordering the Census Bureau to not include undocumented immigrants in the population count. 

Trump has long been focused on excluding undocumented immigrants from the census population count. Last year, the Trump administration made headlines by trying to add a citizenship question. A citizenship question has not appeared on the census since 1950. The administration justified this by claiming that they need data to enforce the Voting Rights Act, a feeble excuse to justify their blatant attempt to scare undocumented and documented immigrants into not completing the census. The Supreme Court eventually struck down the citizenship question in a five-to-four ruling. However, given the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barret, the ruling on this case may look very different.

The census is supposed to count every person living in the U.S. However, Trump is attempting to change this to help Republicans. His order to require the Census Bureau not to include undocumented immigrants in the count is a blatant ploy by Republicans to gain more control. The states with some of the largest undocumented populations are mostly blue states, such as New York and California. Many undocumented immigrants also live in large urban areas across the country. By undercounting undocumented immigrants, Republicans are attempting to have fewer funds sent to Democratic areas and have fewer Democratic-leaning seats in Congress. 

A study from the Pew Research Center found that not counting undocumented immigrants could cause House seats that would otherwise be assigned to California, Florida and Texas to instead be assigned to Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio. Undocumented immigrants are an important part of our country, helping enrich our economy and playing a vital role in our communities. It is estimated that 75% of undocumented immigrants pay taxes and that undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.6 billion a year in taxes. Undocumented immigrants are members of the community and add to the U.S. just as much as anyone else.

Pretending that undocumented immigrants don’t exist in the census count is not only wrong but impractical. The point of the census is to know who is in our country and where they live, so that we can know what to focus on. Excluding undocumented immigrants from the count will not stop them from using roads, attending schools and visiting hospitals. What it will do is prevent the government from getting a clear snapshot of how many people need these services and where to send money and representation.

This is an issue University of Michigan students and alumni should all care about. There are undocumented students across this campus and in this city who deserve our support. If you care about immigrant rights, go to Maize Pages and join one of the many clubs on campus that engages with this issue. Tell your member of Congress that you oppose the removal of undocumented immigrants from the census count. These simple actions can make a huge difference in impacting your representative’s stance on the issue. 

The census is meant to serve as a guide to help the U.S. chart a course into the next decade. Counting the entire population is the only way to ensure that our country has all the information and resources that it needs to be successful in the future. 

Isabelle Schindler can be reached at ischind@umich.edu.

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