White House defends citizenship question on US Census form as standard practice

Dianna Christensen
March 28, 2018

That's why California - the state most likely to be messed with thanks to its size and number of undocumented immigrants - immediately filed suit Monday to stop the Trump administration's plan as a violation of the Constitution. The agencies believe it will help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

"I personally spoke with Secretary Ross about this issue, and I am very disappointed that he appears to be disregarding the views of Republican and Democratic experts - including six former census directors - and is instead rushing ahead with a politically-motivated decision that will jeopardize the full, fair, and accurate count our Constitution demands", he said in a statement Tuesday. "California simply has too much to lose for us to allow the Trump Administration to botch this important decennial obligation". "It would discourage noncitizens and their citizen family members from responding to the census, resulting in a less accurate population count".

The US Department of Commerce, which oversees the census, said on Monday night it had added the question after a request from the Department of Justice.

"This is a question that's been included in every census since 1965, with the exception of 2010, when it was removed", she said.

The impending multi-state lawsuit, which is being led by New York's Attorney General, will name the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau as defendants.

Democrats are blasting the administration for its intention to ask whether people taking part in the census are USA citizens.

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Critics disputed the government's claims that effects would be minimal. "This question is a risky move that could lead to a serious skewing of the final census results, which would have a deleterious effect on our system of representative democracy". "Make no mistake: this decision is anti-immigrant and is intended only to serve the political agenda of those in power in Washington". The question has not been a part of the census since World War II.

Test surveys showed in late 2017 that some immigrants were afraid to provide information to U.S. Census workers because of fears about being deported.

"My biggest worry is the growing risk that public confidence in the census will drop significantly", Lowenthal said.

Bercerra says this will "derail the integrity of the census". "And the census is only as good as the public's willingness to participate". Legislation that specifically addresses the citizenship question has also been introduced in the Senate. "My guess? We will have a less accurate census than the nation could have had". The Justice Department has also sued California over its so-called sanctuary policies to protect immigrants.

Census data helps the USA government calculate funding distribution and draw up districts for state and local elections.

Progressives, states and civil rights advocates are preparing a flurry of legal challenges to the Trump administration's decision to add a question about citizenship to the next census, saying the move will penalize immigrants and threaten civil rights. "By leading to a misrepresentation of the number of New Yorkers, this question will jeopardize critical funding for New York's health care, social services and other vital programst hat benefit all New Yorkers".

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