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State files lawsuit on 2020 census citizenship question


During an April 3 news conference at DC 37 headquarters, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman discusses the state’s lawsuit against the Trump administration, which plans to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 U.S. Census. The question will lead immigrants to decline to participate in the census, resulting in an undercount of New York residents that would cause the loss of billions of dollars in federal assistance, Schneiderman said.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s decision to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 census.

Union leaders and members, community and immigrant groups, the Oregon attorney general, U.S. Congressional members and other elected officials joined Schneiderman at a press conference hosted by DC 37 to denounce the inclusion of the question in the census.

Schneiderman and other speakers described the Trump administration’s action as a political attack on blue states like New York and California, which have large numbers of immigrant residents.

The new census question could drive immigrants underground

The U.S. Constitution requires the U.S. Census Bureau to determine “the whole number of persons in each state” every 10 years. The inclusion of the citizenship question would drive immigrants underground, leading to an undercount of residents, Schneiderman said.

The census data is used to determine the amount of federal assistance that states receive, as well the number of their seats in the U.S. Congress and representation in the Electoral College, whose delegates decide the outcome of presidential elections.

The undercount would result in the loss of billions of dollars in federal funds to New York and reduce its representation in the U.S. Congress and Electoral College, speakers said.

“With immigrant communities already living in fear, demanding citizenship status would drive them into the shadows, leading to a major undercount that threatens billions in federal funding for New York and our fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College,” Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman leads a coalition of 18 attorney generals, six cities and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors in stopping the Trump administration from undercounting the immigrant population.

“For decades, administrations from both parties have treated this constitutional requirement with the respect and reverence it deserves,” Schneiderman said.

“Now, the Trump administration is breaking with that tradition — recklessly abandoning near 70 years of practice by demanding to know the citizenship status of each resident counted,” Schneiderman said.

“This is a brazen attempt by the Trump administration to cheat on the census,” U.S. Congress member Jerrold Nadler said. The administration wants to use the census to “steal electoral votes from New York,” he said.

“What makes America the greatest nation in the world is its diversity,” U.S. Congress member Gregory Meeks said. He described the administration’s scheme to undercount immigrants as part of Trump’s “nativist agenda.”

“The Trump administration knows how important the census is to New York,” Meeks said.

Steven K. Choi, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said that if the citizenship question is used to determine the census count, New York will lose as many as three Congressional seats.

“We are going to fight this battle in the streets and in the courts,” Choi said.

Census data is also used to draw state electoral districts. An undercount of members of immigrant communities would deny them of their one
person, one vote constitutional right, the lawsuit contends.

This would impair fair representation, a foundation of our democratic society.