Editorial: Undocumented Immigrants must be counted for congressional reapportionment

Earlier this month, judges in a New York federal panel ruled that the Trump administration cannot keep undocumented immigrants from being counted when lawmakers reapportion congressional districts next year.

The panel ruling is a win for Texans especially, and we plead that the decision be upheld should the case go to the Supreme Court.

It is clear the Trump administration wishes for undocumented immigrants to not be counted as part of the U.S. population. Last year, the Supreme Court blocked an attempt by the president to add a citizenship question to the census.

Undocumented immigrants are active members of our communities. Frankly, it’s getting a little old that we must continue to defend them as such. Their removal from congressional reapportionment would have sweeping political implications in several states and undermine the important roles they play in our society. Reapportionment is the distribution of the U.S. House’s districts to make them roughly equal in population.

According to The Texas Tribune, the move could have potentially cost Texas several congressional seats and would likely lead to a drastic realignment of statewide political power. Recent estimates indicate about 1.8 million undocumented immigrants live in Texas. While these immigrants have no representation in government, they are still a vital part of our communities.

About 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, and according to the Pew Research Center, 23% of those people entered the country illegally. These are men, women and children who we call friends and neighbors. Many students at UTA are undocumented immigrants.

Critics of the ruling may argue that unauthorized immigrants shouldn’t be tallied for congressional seats because they don’t have voting powers or representation in government.

While this is true, counting noncitizens for congressional seating apportionment has longstanding legal precedent. Additionally, many studies confirm undocumented immigrants create a net positive in our economy. Populations contributing to society deserve to be counted as members of our society, regardless of citizenship status.

Today is a victory for legal precedent and for undocumented immigrant rights. Tomorrow may present another challenge yet. We ask our lawmakers to uphold the rule of law going forward and to keep undocumented immigrant rights intact.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of opinion editor Spencer Brewer; Editor-in-Chief Shay Cohen; news editor Angelica Perez; Cecilia Lenzen, life and entertainment editor; sports editor Chris Amaya; David Silva Ramirez, life and entertainment reporter; and copy editor Andrew Walter. Amaya was unable to attend this meeting.


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