Alabama is seeking to prevent the census bureau from including all residents, regardless of immigration status, in the official census count in a federal court case in the U.S. District Court in Alabama, and New Jersey is intervening in the case.
A federal policy known as the Residence Rule provides that non-citizens residing in the United States are counted “at the residence where they live and sleep most of the time” irrespective of immigration status.
Alabama’s lawsuit seeks to invalidate the Residence Rule, and not count undocumented immigrants at all.
But a brief filed Monday by the state of New Jersey notes that the Constitution requires an “actual enumeration” of the population every ten years. The purpose of the count, according to the brief, is to apportion House of Representatives members among the states; and to allocate federal funds, to draw electoral districts and to determine the state-by-state allocation of electors to the nation’s Electoral College.
“The Census Bureau has always counted every resident in the past, regardless of immigration status, and there is no reason to change course,” said New Jersey Attorney General Grewal in a statement. “But now another state is challenging that longstanding and bipartisan approach, and we have questions about this administration’s willingness to stand up for it. We’re stepping in to make sure the Census Bureau conducts as accurate a count as possible –something that matters here in New Jersey and across the country.”
Were the Residence Rule to be struck down, one in four immigrants in New Jersey would not be counted in the census because they’re undocumented. Immigrants account for approximately 22.5 percent of the state’s population overall.
Without the ability to count those one in four immigrants, the state would lose federal funding allocated on the basis of census data, including for the Highway Trust Fund, Urbanized Area Formula grants, Title I funds, Special Education Funds and the Child Care Development Fund.