nsucurrent.com April 24, 2018

NY leads multistate lawsuit against Trump administration's 2020 census citizenship question

04 April 2018, 01:46 | Colleen Roy

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa speaks against including a citizenship question on the U.S. Census in 2020. Credit Ian Donnis RIPR

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa speaks against including a citizenship question on the U.S. Census in 2020

Each state and locality in the lawsuit claims it will be harmed by an undercount of residents thanks to the citizenship question, saying they will receive less funding and inaccurate representation in Congress - which uses the census data to apportion House seats. "That's what an accurate census provides for and why I will fight any effort to politicize it".

The lawsuit also argues that anti-immigrant policies promoted by the Trump administration will "amplify the negative impacts on census participation rates" from the citizenship question.

"One of the federal government's most solemn obligations is a fair and accurate count of all people in the country, citizen and noncitizen alike", Schneiderman said in a Tuesday release. "For decades, administrations from both parties have treated this constitutional requirement with the respect and reverence it deserves".

Plaintiffs include New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Francisco, Seattle and Providence, Rhode Island.

The lawsuit charges that minority and immigrant populations are already among the hardest to count and that adding a citizenship question at this point would reduce the response rate and would depart from the standard practice of researching and testing a new question for several years before adding it.

The lawsuit accuses Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross - whose department oversees the census - of knowingly adding a question to "deter participation" and "undermine the decennial population count". "President Trump's decision puts our awesome city of immigrants in jeopardy and threatens federal funding for infrastructure, health care and public safety in NY", said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Fourteen percent of D.C.'s population is foreign-born and an estimated 25,000 immigrants are undocumented, Attorney General Karl Racine said the citizenship question could undermine residents. "I am filing this lawsuit to ensure that immigrants in IL are represented fairly and accurately".

The NAACP says the plans for the census will lead to a massive undercounting of blacks. Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a lawsuit against California over policies that the administration says hinder federal immigration authorities from enforcing USA immigration laws. It noted that the question was the same asked on the yearly American Community Survey and that between 1820 and 1950, nearly every decennial census asked a form of the question. This proposal would then limit funds created to support some of the most vulnerable populations in each state, including low-income communities, the elderly, and children-regardless of citizenship.

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