President Trump's order to not count undocumented immigrants when deciding how to allocate US House seats was blocked Thursday. Lawsuits had been filed challenging Trump's order, but a three-judge panel in New York said the plan is so clearly illegal that there's no need for a trial, the New York Times reports. Advocacy groups and state and local governments separately opposed Trump's action, saying it would make the census less accurate and cause some to be underrepresented in Congress. For apportionment, the panel ruled, the law says all residents must be counted irrespective of their legal status, per the Washington Post. "The merits of the parties’ dispute are not particularly close or complicated," the judges wrote.
Trump's plan would have cut the number of House seats going to states with large immigrant populations, including California, Texas, and Florida. Alabama and other states with low numbers of undocumented immigrants would gain—or at least maintain the number of seats they have now. The judges barred the Commerce Department from reporting information about undocumented immigrants collected during the census that could help carry out Trump's order. Two of the judges were appointed by President George W. Bush and one by President Barack Obama. Quoting Trump's memo to Commerce, the unanimous opinion said, "The President is not free to substitute his own view of what is most 'consonant with the principles of representative democracy' for the view that Congress already chose." (Read more US Census stories.)