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Thu. Apr 25th, 2019

Census Citizenship Question Blocked

The administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census has been blocked by a New York City federal judge.

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Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross prepares to testify before the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces during a hearing on Space Situational Awareness: Whole of Government Perspectives on Roles and Responsibilities, Friday, June 22, 2018 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census has been blocked by a New York City federal judge.

Critics of the addition argue that it will likely intimidate non-U.S. citizens from responding to the census, even though the Constitution calls for a census which counts all residents rather than just citizens.

Because census data influences districting and funding, states with high immigrant populations would have been disproportionately and inaccurately represented by the skewed data.

Thankfully, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was not transparent, neither in the true motivations behind the legislation nor the data being used to support it.

When the addition of the citizenship question was initially proposed, Ross couched the entire proposal as a way to enforce the Voting Rights Act and protect minorities from voter discrimination; the reality is almost exactly the opposite.

“[Wilbur Ross] alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him.”  –Judge Furman

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought the case decided by Furman with the explicit understanding that Ross’ proposal would directly undercount parts of the country where there are significant immigrant populations.

Those areas also just so happen to also be primarily Hispanic, urban, and liberal — all demographics that the Republican party has systematically targeted and suppressed over the last eight years since the Obama administration lost the Democratic majority in Congress.

Because the Supreme Court has already lent assistance in this case, and has even been somewhat complicit in the entire affair, it is likely that it will also eventually rule on the case, and with a conservative majority in place.

“At the end of the day, this is about democracy. Democracy turns on knowing who lives where, so that we know who should be representing them. And so, I think every member of the court ought to be interested in an accurate census.”  — David Cole, national legal director of the ACLU

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