The United States Department of Commerce announced on March 26 that it would reinstate a question on citizenship on the 2020 Census.
In a statement, the Commerce Department said the data collected would help the Department of Justice enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights.
Opponents disagree. The spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, Vedant Patel, said, “This latest ploy by Donald Trump and his administration is an attempt to silence the voices of millions of immigrants, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — who are the fastest-growing immigrant group in the United States.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal said people will be less likely to respond to the Census out of fear of deportations, of putting their families at risk, of ‘outing’ themselves or their loved ones.
“Additionally, it would discourage the more than 16 million people who live in mixed status families from participating.” Jayapal said the accuracy of the Census will be jeopardized, if people stop participating.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he would lead a multi-state lawsuit to block the decision. The suit would be filed once the Commerce Department submits its report to Congress, which is due on March 31, and the full list of cities and states joining the suit would then be revealed.
Separately, the State of California, filed a lawsuit on March 27 in federal court against the Commerce Department and the Census Bureau.
The Census, which is mandated under the Constitution and takes place every 10 years, counts every person in the United States. It is used to determine the allocation to states of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities. The citizenship question has not been asked since 1950.
The purpose of the Census is to get a complete count of everyone in America. Its accuracy is extremely important, given how Census data is used to determine how federal and state funds will be allocated geographically.
Including this question could further discourage immigrants from participating in the count, especially when they are already fearful of how information could be used against them. Put pressure on your members of Congress and Senators to reverse this order and protect the integrity and accuracy of the Census. Don’t let the Trump administration hijack the 2020 Census for political purposes.