Citizenship Question ‘Would Cause Incalculable Damage,’ ACLU Says

Citizenship Question ‘Would Cause Incalculable Damage,’ ACLU Says


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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The Trump administration’s plan to add a question to the 2020 Census, asking respondents whether they are US citizens would have dire consequences, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the organizations opposed to the plan.

The plan to add the question, which has been argued in lower courts, now heads to the Supreme Court.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said he wants to add the question at the request of the Justice Department, because it wants better data on the Voting Rights Act.

Opponents say the result of adding the question will not be so benign.

The ACLU says it and it’s allies in its court case presented evidence at trial that the citizenship question was unnecessary and designed to suppress census participation by immigrant communities. Lower turnouts ultimately affect the allocation of congressional seats and billions in federal dollars for services.

According to the government’s own analysis, the decision to add a citizenship question would stop “approximately 6.5 additional million people” from participating in the Census.

A district court decision last month found that, as a result, California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, New York, and Illinois face a “certainly impending” or “substantial risk of losing a seat” in the US House of Representatives and that numerous states would “lose funds from several federal programs.”

“Adding a citizenship question to the census would cause incalculable damage to our democracy,” says Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voters Rights Project. “The evidence presented at trial exposed this was the Trump administration’s plan from the get-go. We look forward to defending our trial court victory in the Supreme Court.”

According to a lawsuit by the California state attorney general, “Including the citizenship question on the 2020 Census will directly impede the Bureau from procuring the ‘actual Enumeration’ of the US. population. Numerous studies — including those conducted by the Bureau — point to the same conclusion: asking about citizenship will repress responses from non-citizens and their citizen relatives.”

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