States, 7 Cities Sue To Remove Citizenship Question From 2020 Census

Latino lawmakers and advocacy groups in Texas are condemning the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census as a politicized maneuver created to "strike fear in the hearts" of the immigrant community. Yet demanding citizenship information in the Census is expected to depress participation among immigrants, causing a population undercount that would disproportionately harm states and cities with large immigrant communities.

For decades, Census officials of both political parties warned against asking about citizenship status on the decennial census. The cities joining the suits are Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Seattle, and San Francisco, plus the United States Conference of Mayors. "Adding an untested question on citizenship will silence many in immigrant communities and no doubt suppress the census data", said Congressman Eliot Engel.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will brief members of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on April 11 about the controversial inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

North Carolina is one of seventeen states including the District of Columbia and six cities to sue the USA government Tuesday, saying the addition of a citizenship question to the census form is unconstitutional.

In 1980, the Census Bureau rejected the addition of a citizenship question, saying, "Any effort to ascertain citizenship will inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count".

"Adding an untested citizenship question at this point would sabotage the accuracy of the 2020 Census and threaten federal funding for critical programs in MA", said AG Healey. "This would result in a count that is not truly representative of our population", said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement on Tuesday. "This citizenship question is just a scare tactic", Schneiderman said.

Texas sees about $43 billion in census-guided federal funds annually that flow toward health care services, education, natural disaster aid, and roads and infrastructure.

Last week, Commerce @SecretaryRoss caved to political pressure and added a citizenship question to the #2020Census. He argues that intent is at odds with the U.S. Constitution's command that the census count every person in the United States.

The lawsuit also cites the American Statistical Association's opposition to including the questions, lest they deter enough respondents to compromise the validity of the census.

"It's illegal also because the Administrative Procedures Act requires changes to the Census questionnaire be done after study and after public hearings and based on something other than mere guesses and somebody's idea of what would be a good new policy", Frosh continues. And "that will hurt the states that have a significant population of immigrants".

  • Jon Douglas