Multiple states opposed to citizenship question on 2020 census file federal lawsuit

05 April, 2018, 00:52 | Author: Clint Gray
  • Central Falls Mayor James Diossa speaks against including a citizenship question on the U.S. Census in 2020

Today, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and a coalition of 17 other Attorneys General, six cities, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors filed a lawsuit to block the Trump Administration from demanding citizenship information in the 2020 decennial Census.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement Monday he was among legislators requesting that the next census request citizenship status, saying, "a question on citizenship is a reasonable, commonsense addition to the census". The Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] is claiming that the questions are now necessary in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act by equipping the DOJ with more accurate numbers of voting-age citizens.

"It's all a matter of just trying to get the best census count, ultimately", said Cy Smith, the state's Geospatial Enterprise Officer, who is leading the address validation efforts for state government. In 2009, three decades' worth of former Census Bureau directors of both parties objected to a congressional proposal to add citizenship and immigration questions to the 2010 census. About 100,000, or almost 3 percent of Iowans, live in hard to count neighborhoods, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. Swanson notes that Minnesota allocates state aid to local governments based on census results.

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The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court, and challenged the U.S. Department of Commerce's alleged "unconstitutional and arbitrary decision" to add the citizenship question. Yet demanding citizenship information in the census is expected to reduce participation among immigrants and could cause a population undercount, which would disproportionately harm states with large immigrant communities, according to a news release from Rosenblum's office. It would be the first time in 70 years that the government used the census form sent to every household to ask people to specify whether they are USA citizens.

"Adding the citizenship question to all respondents is unnecessarily intrusive and it does raise concerns in all households", she said.

In the lawsuit, the states argue the question is inconsistent with legal and constitutional responsibilities and that it will jeopardize funding streams for states.

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Under the Constitution, the U.S. Census Bureau has an obligation to determine "the whole number of persons in each state".

With the start of the 2020 Census less than two years away, preparations for the decennial count of the nation's residents have already begun in Oregon. Others may avoid the Census out of confusion over the question.

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