Friday, 20 April, 2018

California sues Trump administration over citizenship query

Not Released The citizenship question will likely appear on the 2020 Census
Heather Davidson | 28 March, 2018, 01:14

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump administration over a decision to include a citizenship question on the upcoming U.S. Census.

The U.S. Department of Justice had requested that the U.S. Commerce Department add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census in order to get more accurate data on citizen voting age population so government can better detect violations of minority voting rights. He also said it wouldn't overly burden the non-citizens because approximately 70 percent of them already answer the question correctly on the annual American Community Survey, an ongoing survey of USA population that generates data that help determine how more than $675 billion in federal and state funds distributed every year. It helps determine the number of seats each state has in the House and how federal money is distributed to local communities.

The census has included a citizenship question in the past.

Ross said the higher cost of having to do more follow-ups in the case of a lower response rate was a factor he considered, but that "the need for accurate citizenship data" outweighs concerns about the potential for fewer responses.

The state of California immediately challenged the plan in federal court. It said that between 1820 and 1950, nearly every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form.

"The American Community Survey has been and will continue to be suitable for civil rights and voting rights enforcement", said Gupta, who headed up the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President Obama. Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., said she would introduce legislation to stop the question from being included in the census.

Carolyn Malone, a Democrat who represents part of New York City, said the move was "politically motivated" as it could strengthen the Republican Party's position in future elections. "A question on citizenship is a reasonable, commonsense addition to the census".

The census, which takes place every 10 years, asked a question about citizenship until 1950.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, told the Associated Press that he expected his state would also join in a lawsuit.

Former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder also blasted the move and said his organization, which focuses on voting enfranchisement and redistricting, would also pursue litigation against what he called an "irresponsible decision".

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

"Counting the number of USA citizens in the country should be a high priority of the census, and the only way to get an accurate count is to add a question about citizenship to the census itself", Cotton said.

Becerra and his state have been central to virtually every legal challenge of the Trump administration on issues ranging from immigration, to the environment, to health care. "It would discourage noncitizens and their citizen family members from responding to the census, resulting in a less accurate population count", they wrote.

Commerce says that between 1820 and 1950, nearly every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form.

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