SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA / KFTA) – The United States Supreme Court on Monday opened oral arguments over the Trump administration’s push to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census. Local attorneys and attorneys said the potential decision could directly impact northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.
Mireya Reith is the Executive Director of Arkansas United, a Springdale-based immigrant advocacy group. She questioned the SCOTUS and even discussed the step desired by the government to exclude undocumented immigrants.
“This year’s census was unusual in so many different ways,” said Reith. “The Constitution makes it very clear that anyone who lives here in the United States can claim it at the time of the census.”
Victor Rojas, a Springdale attorney, said the battle could be viewed through a political lens.
“If you remove the undocumented populations who vote democratically, you will get fewer seats in Congress,” said Rojas. “I think that would be a fundamental angle in this whole thing. I don’t think the president specifically targets undocumented immigrants because he doesn’t like them. I just think politically, it’s a good move for Republicans. “
The final decision could have a lasting impact, Rojas said.
“Federal dollars could be lost. Representatives could be lost, ”said Rojas. “This affects everyone, not just immigrants.”
Throughout history, undocumented immigrants have always been counted in censuses, Rojas said. That makes this particular situation unprecedented.
“It’s never been done before,” said Rojas. “In fact, it is in direct contradiction to what has been done before.”
Stephen Coger is an immigration attorney based in Springdale. He said there are many unknowns as to how the verdict will turn out.
“There’s no telling what will come of this dish, especially with the newest member,” said Coger.
Coger said the ongoing legal battle could deter immigrants from participating in future censuses.
“These litigation will have a long-term deterrent effect, which is unfortunate, especially for Northwest Arkansas,” said Coger.