States, cities sue U.S. to block citizenship question on census

Apr 04, 2018, 01:46
States, cities sue U.S. to block citizenship question on census

Critics of the citizenship question say it might dissuade immigrants, and perhaps many citizens, from being counted, with a disproportionate impact on Democratic-leaning states.

In Maryland, where almost 15 percent of people are foreign-born and around 250,000 are undocumented, Attorney General Brian Frosh said the question would result in the loss of federal funds for the state and deprive it of fair representation in Congress.

"For decades, administrations from both [major] political parties have treated this constitutional requirement with the respect and reverence it deserves".

New York Attorney General Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who announced the new lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, said the plans would have a "devastating effect on New York, where we have millions of immigrants".

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"The Census is a fundamental part of our democracy, and we must encourage every person living in our country to participate, not put up barriers that prevent people from being counted", Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement.

The census has not asked whether members of American households are US citizens since 1950 but planned to in 2020 at the request of the Justice Department, which said it's needed to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Centennial census data is used to redraw House districts, which determine how many seats each state receives and how many electoral votes they can cast.

The census has not asked about citizenship on the decennial form since 1950, and former top Justice Department officials say that the ACS provides adequate data to enforce the law. "President Trump's decision puts our wonderful city of immigrants in jeopardy and threatens federal funding for infrastructure, health care and public safety in NY", said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "I am filing this lawsuit to ensure that immigrants in IL are represented fairly and accurately".

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As the Census Bureau's own research shows, the decision to demand citizenship information 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. The complaint filed Tuesday specifically outlines that OR received almost $431 million in Highway Trust Fund Grants, $57 million in Urbanized Area Formula Grants, and $39 million in Child Care Development Grants in fiscal year 2015.

The lawsuit also emphasizes the irreparable harm that will result from inaccuracies in the 2020 census caused by demanding citizenship information.

"Without an accurate count, Seattle could lose billions of dollars of federal investments in housing, schools, and hospitals, and other critical federal resources". Consequently, inaccurate counts can potentially deprive states of much-needed funds created to protect low-income and vulnerable communities.

In addition, the citizenship demand would depress Census participation within the states' diverse immigrant and undocumented populations, leading to inaccurate responses and a significant undercount of the states' residents.

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