Calif. attorney general talks suit against Trump on census

by Abel Hampton March 28, 2018, 0:42
Calif. attorney general talks suit against Trump on census

Attorney General Maura Healey is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the federal government after US officials chose to add a question about citizenship to the USA census in 2020. "Make no mistake - this decision is motivated purely by politics".

The question has not been on the full census since the 1950s, but does appear on the yearly American Community Survey administered by the Census Bureau to give a fuller picture of life in America and the population.

California's attorney general has said he will try to block the move. "And no one provided evidence that there are residents who would respond accurately to a decennial census that did not contain a citizenship question but would not respond if it did".

He stressed that the question poses no additional imposition because "census responses by law may only be used anonymously and for statistical purposes". He said this would allow the government to get a large amount of self-reported data but also determine if non-citizens misreported themselves as citizens - which happened around 30 percent of the time on a prior federal survey. The statement did not say which states would join the lawsuit and when it would be filed.

Xavier Becerra, California's attorney-general, said after the announcement that he would be taking legal action against the move, which he described as illegal.

The Commerce Department said the decision came after a "thorough review" of the request from the Justice Department.

"This undercount would frustrate the Census Bureau's obligation under the Constitution to determine "the whole number of persons in each state, ' threaten our states" fair representation in Congress, dilute our states' role in the Electoral College, and deprive our states of their fair share of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds that are allocated in part on decennial Census data", the attorneys general argued.

The request inflamed immigration and human rights advocates, who argued that immigrants already distrustful of the government would avoid filling out the census out of fear that their answers could jeopardize their status in the country.

The Trump administration's plan to include a controversial question about citizenship status to the upcoming 2020 census is sparking a backlash from civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers. If baseline data regarding the current population are inaccurate, future projections could be skewed, causing financial challenges down the line.

They say citizenship is not needed to enforce the law and that collecting such data will actually have the opposite effect, that is, it will "undermine the law and weaken voting rights enforcement". The Justice Department has also sued California over its so-called sanctuary policies to protect immigrants.

Immigrants and those who live with immigrants are troubled by confidentiality and data-sharing aspects of the count, Mikelyn Meyers, a researcher at the Census Bureau's Center for Survey Measurement, told a meeting of the bureau's National Advisory Committee in November. "The Trump administration's reckless decision to suddenly abandon almost 70 years of practice by demanding to know the citizenship status of each resident counted cuts to the heart of this sacred obligation - and will create an environment of fear and distrust in immigrant communities that would make impossible both an accurate Census and the fair distribution of federal tax dollars". Ted Cruz, R-Texas, praised Ross for announcing the decision to include a citizenship question, calling it a "reasonable, common sense addition to the census". "We urge the administration to reconsider".

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