NY Officials Denounce Trump 2020 Census Immigration Question

Answering the US Census is your civic — and legal — duty

Almost two dozen US states and cities filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block the Trump administration's plan to ask respondents during the 2020 census if they are USA citizens, the latest salvo in an escalating battle.

Critics say the current survey is adequate for that objective, and the citizenship question will just end up undermining the decennial census, especially among minority and immigrant populations.

Today's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY.

That's another issue raised by the case: the questions haven't gone through the testing typically required prior to inclusion on the decennial census.

The temporary employee will coordinate the state's efforts "to ensure an accurate census count" in 2020, according to a legislative budget report.

Accuracy in the census is important for providing appropriate federal funding to states, apportioning congressional seats and Electoral College votes and drawing state and local voting districts. The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau. Only about a quarter of Americans said they opposed the citizenship question on the Census.

All households were last asked about USA citizenship in the 1950 Census, although "some version of the question has been asked in almost every census - either through the now-defunct "long form" or the ongoing annual surveys", in subsequent decades, according to PolitiFact.com. However, as Billy Corriher noted in an article for Facing South, experts say that while "the new question will not help enforce the VRA, it could lead to less representation in Congress and state legislatures for people of color".

Adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census may sound innocuous, but immigrant advocates say it will have a far-reaching impact on all people in the country.

"Immigration status has been a part of the census in the past, and Gov. Reynolds doesn't believe that adding it back in will have any negative effect on Iowa", said Brenna Smith, a spokeswoman. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said the citizenship question could undermine residents.

The defendants in the lawsuit are the U.S. Department of Commerce, responsible for the census, and the Bureau of the Census. Six cities - Chicago, Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. - are also signing on.

"Decisions to change questions on the decennial census typically take several years to test, evaluate, and implement; but defendants' decision here was compressed into a hasty and unprecedented period of less than four months", the complaint states.

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