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NY sues Trump administration over addition of citizenship question to census

28 March, 2018, 00:43 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Census Takers

It's hard to deny the logic put forth by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra: Removing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from California and handing it to a Red State less likely to be affected by undercounting directly benefits the Republican Party.

Former Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt said the decision "makes for a stormy situation given the unique visibility of the census".

Becerra is one of 17 Democratic state attorneys general who wrote Ross a letter last month, arguing that including the citizenship question would be unconstitutional and would scare illegal immigrants into not participating in the decennial questionnaire and result in an undercount of the population.

Schneiderman believes the question that will appear on the 2020 census form violates the 14th Amendment.

Federal and local policymaking: Federal and local politicians make policy decisions based in part on demographic data provided by the census.

She said the administration chose to reinstate the question because it has "provided data that's necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters, and specifically to help us better comply with the Voting Rights Act, which is something that's important and part of this process".

In an eight-page memo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the citizenship question would be included in the next Census to better enforce the Voting Rights Act and to prevent racial discrimination in voting.

But supporters of the Trump administration point out that less sweeping surveys like the American Community Survey have continued to ask about citizenship in recent years. The Justice Department had requested the reinstatement of this question.

Lawmakers also use census data to draw congressional district boundaries within states, an often-controversial process that can help decide partisan control of the House.

In an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, Becerra and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla called the move "not just a bad idea - it is illegal".

And as it is, the Census Bureau itself estimated that its 2010 count undercounted the Latino population in the U.S. by 1.5 percent and the black population by 2.1 percent, numbers that experts say will be much worse with the new question. "California simply has too much to lose for us to allow the Trump Administration to botch this important decennial obligation".

The request inflamed immigration and human rights advocates, who argued that immigrants already distrustful of the government would avoid filling out the census out of fear that their answers could jeopardize their status in the country. The priority, Commerce said, was "obtaining complete and accurate data". That reaction would further depress response rates, forcing the Census Bureau to spend more money on follow-up and imperiling the accuracy of the count. Mr Trump's rhetoric and his efforts to end an Obama-era programme that shielded unauthorised "dreamer" immigrants from deportation have increased fears among many people living in the USA illegally.

More challenges could soon follow. "Particularly in the current national climate, a citizenship question will obviously cause great consternation and discourage participation in the census".

"We are glad to stand with NY and the other participating states in challenging this unnecessary question regarding citizenship status - both to protect New Jersey residents and ensure a fair and accurate census", Grewal said. "We urge the administration to reconsider".


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