Wolf administration rebukes Trump’s census memorandum on undocumented immigrants

Make PA Count graphic from the Pennsylvania State Data Center. (Screen Capture). https://pennsylvaniacounts2020.info/

A week after President Donald Trump issued a memorandum directing the U.S. Department of Commerce not to count undocumented immigrants in its reapportionment efforts, members of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration are speaking out against the action. 

The Pennsylvania commissions on Asian Pacific American, African American, Latino, Women and LGBTQ Affairs, and the Governor’s 2020 Census Complete Count Commission, released a joint statement Wednesday rebuking the President’s move. 

The joint statement reads:

“The recent ‘Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce Excluding Illegal Aliens from the Apportionment’ signed by President Donald Trump on July 21, 2020, will cause extreme confusion and distress in immigrant communities and significantly decrease their participation in the 2020 Census.

“Excluding any resident from the Census runs counter to the Constitutional mandate to ‘count every person in the US.’ The resulting undercounting of the actual population of many communities will drastically decrease their allocation of federal dollars for critical services including education, transportation, healthcare and more. This in turn will severely impact all – citizens and non-citizens – who reside in these communities for the next decade. 

“We acknowledge the immense contributions of our immigrant communities in all spheres of our economy and society. We are especially thankful for their work on the frontlines of the war against COVID-19, including in healthcare and service industries, in the spheres of food production and delivery, in manufacturing, research and more. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Pennsylvania’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all. While the legality and constitutionality of this Executive Memorandum is being challenged in courts, we extend our full support to our immigrant communities and urge them to participate in the Census now and to be counted.”

Norman Bristol Colón, executive director, Governor’s 2020 Census Complete Count Commission, said in a statement that the Constitution requires a complete count, even if that means ignoring the White House’s actions. 

“The constitution of the United States requires a complete count of all residents in our nation. In Pennsylvania, our tradition is to be in full compliance with the constitution and reject any action suggesting otherwise,” Colón said. “The divisive language from Washington should not be embraced when above all the census is one of the most fundamental civic duties in our American society. We will continue to do our job in full compliance with the constitution of counting every Pennsylvania resident regardless if they have been here for generations or they just moved to our state in 2020.”

Just an hour after the joint statement was released, the Department of Community and Economic Development issued a statement, reminding Pennsylvanians to respond to the Census questionnaire.

In May, DCED announced an extension to respond to the 2020 Census from July 31, 2020, to October 31, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Pennsylvania, 65.4 percent of residents have already responded to the census, 3.1 percent higher than the national average, according to DCED.

Adams, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton and York counties all have a response rate over 70 percent. 

Cameron, Forest, Monroe, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wayne counties have a response rate hovering between 20 and 65 percent, the department reported.

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.