Attorney General Becerra Leads Lawsuit Challenging Unlawful Trump Administration Attack on Complete, Accurate Census Count

Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Urges everyone to stand up and be counted in the 2020 Census

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — joined by the cities of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland, as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District — today filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s latest unlawful attack on a complete, accurate census count. Today’s action pushes back on the Trump Administration’s last-minute attempt to circumvent the Constitution and alter the census’ centuries-old process on apportionment, which determines Congressional representation. In the lawsuit, California asserts that the Trump Administration’s new memorandum on apportionment is patently unconstitutional. Because an accurate count will determine California’s fair share of federal funding for crucial programs and services — money that comes back from the hundreds of billions of dollars that California sends in taxes to Washington every year — it’s essential that Californians not be discouraged from completing the census.

“You can’t be a law-and-order president if you keep breaking the law,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This latest attack on the census is just that — it’s unlawful. President Trump still believes he can sidestep the U.S. Constitution. A complete, accurate census count is critical to ensure we get the Congressional representation and resources we have a right to. For Californians who haven’t filled out the census, get to it. Make your voice heard.”

"We must call this what it is: another unconstitutional power grab by a president desperate to shift political influence away from places where many immigrants live. It didn't work when he tried to force an unlawful citizenship question into the census, and it won't work now," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.  "We're joining in taking him on again because the stakes for Los Angeles are so high. Fortunately, the Constitution couldn't be more clear — when it comes to political representation, every person, regardless of immigration status, counts."  

"President Trump's latest attack on a complete and accurate census count is not only unconstitutional — it fundamentally undermines our democracy," said Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. "This lawsuit is about making sure everyone in Oakland, in California, and across the United States, can stand up and be counted — no matter their background or their immigration status. We will fight back against any effort to count out the workers and families that make our communities richer, stronger, and more American."

“The City of Long Beach is proud to join the litigation brought by State Attorney General Xavier Becerra to compel the federal government to conduct a complete and accurate 2020 Census," said Long Beach City Attorney Charles Parkin. "Both the United States Constitution and historical precedent absolutely require that all individuals living in this country be counted, regardless of their immigration status. An accurate census count is critical for all cities, including the City of Long Beach. The numbers compiled in the census ultimately determine the city and state’s representation in Congress and the drawing of congressional districts within the state. Importantly, an accurate census count also determines the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding for programs that are vitally important to the City of Long Beach such as Community Development Block Grant Funds, Medicaid, supplemental nutrition assistance programs, and local mental health programs to name a few. The city looks forward to a successful completion of this litigation and the accurate census count that the City of Long Beach and all cities require and deserve.”

"The federal administration’s memorandum is an attack on our students and our district and we must fight for each and every student and their families to be counted and represented," said Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Mónica García. "L.A. Unified has been a leader in census outreach efforts to ensure that our communities are supported and empowered. Thank you, Attorney General Becerra and the leaders of our state for protecting the rights of all our students and families. Everyone counts! ¡Todos cuentan!" 

Last week, the Trump Administration published a memorandum aimed at excluding undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 Census for the purposes of Congressional apportionment. Beyond the myriad legal flaws, the administration’s memorandum ignores that the framers of the U.S. Constitution required that each state’s representation in Congress reflect all persons regardless of their eligibility to vote, including children, women, and the “entire immigrant population not naturalized.” For the purposes of apportionment, the U.S. Constitution requires an actual enumeration — a count of each person — of the country’s total population every 10 years, which U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross himself asserted in testimony before Congress in 2019. By attempting to circumvent these long-standing constitutional requirements, the Trump Administration is once again taking egregious steps to undermine the rule of law.

The results of the census determine state representation in Congress as well as the distribution of crucial federal funding. Billions of dollars that California receives annually to fund programs and services that support the health and well-being of our communities are at stake. It is vitally important that California get back its fair share. California cannot afford an undercount — it is critical for everyone to be counted, regardless of their immigration status. 

The California Census Office provides resources to make it easier for partners and stakeholders to help spread the message about the importance of participating in the 2020 Census to communities throughout California. Census data is protected by law. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, census data is strictly confidential and can only be used for statistical purposes. Information provided cannot be used against residents by any government agency or court of law. For more than two hundred years, that’s the way it has always been. More information about the U.S. Census Bureau’s protection of personal, identifiable information can be found here.

Attorney General Becerra strongly urges all people residing in California to stand up and make their voices heard by being counted in the 2020 Census. The census form is easy to fill out and there are just nine simple questions that can be completed in minutes. Everyone counts and your information is secure. You can fill out the census by:

  • Completing the online form at;
  • Calling 844-330-2020, with a list of additional in-language options here; or
  • If you’ve received a paper form, you can simply mail it in.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to working to uphold the rights of everyone in California, no matter where they were born. Last year, Attorney General Becerra, alongside a multistate coalition, helped secure a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to block the Trump Administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census. Earlier this month, following widespread public outcry and a lawsuit filed by the State of California, the Trump Administration ditched its dangerous directive on student visas. Last month, Attorney General Becerra, leading a coalition of 21 attorneys general, secured a landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which protects more than 180,000 Dreamers in California alone. The Attorney General also secured a U.S. Supreme Court holding leaving in place an appellate decision that the Trump Administration does not have the authority to commandeer state resources for the purposes of federal immigration enforcement. 

In filing today’s lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the city attorneys of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland, as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District.

A copy of the lawsuit is available here.

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