Legal fight begins over census citizenship question

Legal fight begins over census citizenship question

"We're prepared to do what we must to protect California from a deficient Census", he said.

Ross said in a memo late Monday that he chose to add the citizenship question after a request from the Department of Justice, which said the move was necessary to get data to better enforce a law that protects minority voting rights.

A citizenship question hasn't appeared on the census form since 1950, according to the Commerce Department.

For more than six decades, the U.S. Census has gotten along very well without asking everyone living in this country to explain their immigration status.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state will sue the Trump Administration over its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. University of California, Berkeley professor and demographer Kenneth W. Yachter notes that the data it offers could help a school board decide whether or not an additional elementary school needs to be built in a particular district.

The department said: "Secretary Ross determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government goal outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts".

Opponents of a 2020 Census question about citizenship status say it could further discourage immigrants from participating in the count, especially when they are already fearful of how information could be used against them.

But other organizations, like the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a group that has lobbied for immigrant rights in the past, disputed that claim, calling the choice to include a citizenship question an "arbitrary and untested decision that all but guarantees that the census will not produce a full and accurate count of the population as the constitution requires". After the last census, the apportionment data was released on December 21, causing 10 states to lose seats in Congress and eight to again them.

"With an inaccurate census, all those forecasts become inaccurate and the whole planning and process in business and government is impaired", says Wachter.

Critics, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, view the question as an attack on immigrants. Researchers said respondents had specific fears about sharing confidential information with researchers, and attributed it to moves from the Trump administration to target immigrants and people of color such as the Muslim travel ban, the dismantling of DACA, and the empowerment of ICE agents. NY plans to lead a multi-state lawsuit, he said. This isn't the first time the census has run afoul of politics (in years past, some have similarly resisted outreach efforts to track down, or perhaps estimate the number of, homeless and other low-income individuals who might otherwise go unnoticed), but it's surely among the most heavy-handed to date given that the estimated 12 million undocumented who are in danger of being ignored altogether. The Census Bureau now asks about place of birth, citizenship and year of entry on a separate survey conducted every year called the American Community Survey, sampling only a portion of the population. Ross said the U.S. Department of Justice requested the change to determine possible violations of the Voting Rights Act.