Seventeen states, Washington, D.C., six major cities and the bipartisan United States Conference of Mayors are suing to block President Trump’s Commerce Department and Census Bureau from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.
The lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), argues that adding a citizenship question “will fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count and cause tremendous harms.”
“As defendants’ own research shows, this decision will ‘inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count’ by significantly deterring participation in immigrant communities, because of concerns about how the federal government will use citizenship information,” the 54-page complaint, filed Tuesday, said. “These concerns have been amplified by the anti-immigrant policies, actions, and rhetoric targeting immigrant communities from President Trump and this Administration.”
“This is a blatant effort to undermine the Census and prevent the Census Bureau from carrying out its clear constitutional mandate,” he added.
The Hill added:
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in March announced his decision to grant a request from the Department of Justice to reinstate the citizenship question on the 2020 census to help enforce the Voting Rights Act despite fierce opposition from Democrats and civil rights groups.
Opponents argue that given U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s crackdown on illegal immigration, adding a citizenship question will frighten people in immigrant communities from responding to the census, making the numbers inaccurate.
In its March press release, the Department of Commerce said Ross determined that obtaining complete and accurate information about citizenship to better enforce the Voting Rights Act outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts.
Getting accurate census data, Democrats say is critical.
“We argue with substantial evidence that this is really just an effort to punish places like New York that welcome immigrants, that are accommodating to immigrants and embrace the American tradition of open arms for all,” Schneiderman said.
“We have seen this pattern from this administration and from other Republicans to cheat at democracy, to cheat the system, to suppress the vote, to demand things like voters IDs so that minority groups will have fewer voters and we’ve seen it work. We must stop it,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
“We cannot have a deliberately skewed census. It’s too foundational for American Democracy. And it is so brazen an attack on the Constitution, I don’t think it can stand up in court.”
The states of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, as is the District of Columbia. The cities of New York; Chicago; Philadelphia; Providence, Rhode Island; Seattle; and San Francisco are also plaintiffs, as is the U.S. Conference of Mayors.