A three-judge panel on Thursday found the effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from an apportionment base following the U.S. Census was illegal -- scoring a victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James. 

The political fight over the Census this year has become a pitched one, as groups seek to stop an early end to the count this month and Democrats have filed legal challenges to efforts they worry will undercount people of color in key states. 

“President Trump’s repeated attempts to hinder, impair, and prejudice an accurate census and the subsequent apportionment have failed once again,” James said in a statement. 

“The courts have ruled in our favor on every census matter in the last two years and continually rejected President Trump’s unlawful efforts to manipulate the census for political purposes. We cannot allow the White House’s constant fearmongering and xenophobia to stop us from being counted. We urge everyone to fill out the census, if they have not already, and we will continue to take every legal action available to ensure all communities are counted, all communities are properly represented, and all communities get the federal funding they need and deserve.”

The suit, filed in July, came after President Donald Trump's administration announced it would not include undocumented residents in an apportionment base that determines how many members states receive in the House of Representatives. 

New York is expected to lose at least one seat in the House after the Census is completed due to not growing as fast as the rest of the country. 

But the apportionment fight is over the more raw political power that comes with population in the U.S. and the concern an undercount could leave New York at an even greater disadvantage.