The state of California will sue the Trump administration over the upcoming 2020 census and its inclusion of a question about US citizenship, California state attorney general Xavier Becerra said Monday night.
"The U.S. Constitution requires 'counting the whole number of persons in each State.' Adding a citizenship question would fatally undermine the accuracy of the 2020 Census and reduce response rates, especially among immigrant and noncitizen communities", Becerra said in the letter to Ross in February.
"Innocuous at first blush, its effect would be truly insidious", he wrote in a joint op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle with the California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
The announcement from Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross comes after the Department of Justice requested the question be reinstated. 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 US population that generates data that help determine how more than $675 billion in federal and state funds distributed every year.
The data is collected to help the federal government calculate the distribution of funding and draw up district maps to be used at state and local elections.
The White House says the decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 U.S. Census was not made in the West Wing. He also argued that the lateness of the request is impractical; states could lose representatives in Congress and federal funding due to a wrong Census tally; and that the request actually makes it harder to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. 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".
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Experts say this disparity is a symptom of small state economics, and not part of a long-term systemic problem. Hispanic unemployment fell to 3.3 percent in February, from 4.0 percent in January and 5.5 percent a year ago.
The agency said the citizenship question will help to ensure enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, a 1965 law created to ensure minority access to the polls.
NY announced it would also lead a separate multi-state lawsuit to challenge the move on Tuesday. "Between 1820 and 1950, nearly every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form", the department said.
Ross has said the citizenship question won't decrease the census' response rate. "Our objective is to have this citizenship question - which arbitrarily ignores decade after decade of our nation's regular census practices - not included in the 2020 Census". The Census Bureau now asks about place of birth, citizenship and year of entry on a separate survey conducted every year called the American Community Survey, sampling only a portion of the population.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, told the Associated Press that he expected his state would also join in a lawsuit. The priority, Commerce said, was "obtaining complete and accurate data".
But opponents say the question will discourage immigrants from responding to the census. Healey has not been shy about bringing lawsuits against the federal government when she believes USA policy under President Donald Trump will harm MA.
Former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder has described the Trump administration action as a "direct attack on our representative democracy" and we inclined to agree.