Citizenship question in census brings USA into line with worldwide practice

Wilbur Ross

Wilbur Ross

"An accurate census count is critical to the federal funding, political representation and operations of Prince George's County", said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) in a statement which announced the suit. "This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal, which will result in an undercount of the population and threaten federal funding for our state and cities". Officials from NY and New Jersey, also Democratic-led states, were also planning on leading or participating in lawsuits.

Attorney General Becerra filed today's lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. "Asking respondents if they are citizens will likely decrease response rates in immigrant communities, and as a result produce an inaccurate and incomplete count that will impact the distribution of federal resources, and the number of Congressional districts that each state receives". Researchers concluded last year that in the 2015 fiscal year, 132 government programs used information from the census to determine how to allocate more than $675 billion, much of it for programs that serve lower-income families, including Head Start, Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell grants for college and reduced-price school lunch programs.

According to Congressman Steve King, "The Commerce Department has granted my request and is restoring a necessary citizenship question to improve the quality of census data gathered", said King. The state campaign aims to encourage immigrant community groups, elected officials, census experts and labor leaders to rally for an accurate count. "We felt these effects in the aftermath of the 2010 Census, and all signs indicate that the 2020 Census will be even worse", Ross said in a statement. Immigrants and citizens who have immigrants in their household will be reluctant to participate in a census that asks about citizenship.

"When you do this once every 10 years, for 340 million people, you've got to get it right", William H. Frey, a University of MI demographer, told the New York Times.

The defendants now named in the lawsuit are Secretary of the Department of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Acting Director of the U.S. Census Ron Jarmin and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Including a question about citizenship status on the 2020 census threatens to undermine the accuracy of the once-per-decade federal head count - a gamble the country can not afford to take.

"If the Trump administration is going to turn the Census into a weapon, then NY is going to need an army to protect it", said Choi. Unfortunately, while the Department of Commerce's communication indicates that the decision to include the citizenship status question was made after considering its potential adverse impacts, it is unclear to what degree this decision followed proper procedures. If politicians in states such as California and NY think that they should receive more federal funding, greater representation in Congress, and more electoral votes because of the presence of large number of illegal aliens within their borders, then it is that expectation that is unfair - and unreasonable. "What the Trump Administration is requesting is not just alarming, it is an unconstitutional attempt to disrupt an accurate Census count".

Twelve states have announced they will sue to get this destructive idea rescinded.

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