It is well-known to many by now that Mr. Trump has made immigration a top issue and it appears that he is not going to stop with the Twitter rants until a big wall is built to satisfy him. According to NBC News, ICE arrests of immigrants who are away from the border have increased by 40 percent since Trump has been in office.
Now, Mr. Trump’s Justice Department wants to include a Census question asking people whether or not they are U.S. citizens. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) is a leading a multi-state lawsuit though to prevent this from being included on the 2020 Census.
Schneiderman filed a 54-page complaint on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The complaint was brought by 16 other states, Washington D.C., six cities, and the United States Conference of Mayors. Attorney General Schneiderman announced the lawsuit in New York City, saying:
‘This is a blatant effort to undermine the Census and prevent the Census Bureau from carrying out its clear constitutional mandate.’
According to the complaint document:
‘The U.S. Bureau of the Census (“Census Bureau”) has not sought citizenship information on the decennial census form that goes to every household in the country since 1950. In departing from nearly seven decades of settled practice, Defendants also departed from their long-standing and well-established processes for revising the decennial census questionnaire. Decisions to change questions on the decennial census typically take several years to test, evaluate, and implement; but Defendants’ decision here was compressed into a hasty and unprecedented period of less than four months.’
‘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.’
In March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requested that the Census Bureau reinstate a question about citizenship on the decennial census to provide census block level citizenship voting age population (“CV AP”) data that are not currently available from government survey data (“DOJ request”).
The Department of Justice, which is led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pushed for the question to be included in order to allow the department to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. Even Democrats say getting accurate Census data is important, but decennial census data is different.
Decennial census data is used to redraw House districts which determines how many seats each state receives and how many electoral votes each state can cast. Schneiderman said:
‘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.’
Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) 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.
‘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.’
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is one of 17 Democratic state attorneys who wrote Secretary Ross warning him against including the citizenship question, which they stated would be unconstitutional. Becerra tweeted:
The attorneys general wrote:
‘Including a question on the 2020 Census that would manipulate the count by scaring people away from being counted — causing grave harm to the states and our residents — is inconsistent with those obligations.’
One GOP lawmaker tweeted this in favor of including the Census question:
In the 54-page document, Schneiderman explained:
‘Further, it will deprive historically marginalized immigrant communities of critical public and private resources over the next ten years. Defendants’ decision is inconsistent with their constitutional and statutory obligations; is unsupported by the stated justification; departs from decades of settled practice without reasoned explanation; and fails to consider the availability of alternative data that effectively serve the federal government’s needs.’
Featured image by Alex Wong/Getty Images