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Civil rights, immigrant advocacy groups condemn new Census question on citizenship; California sues

A wide array of civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups are loudly condemning the Trump administration’s plan to include a new question in the 2020 Census about citizenship. This is from the good people at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“In no uncertain terms, we condemn Secretary Ross’s decision to incorporate an 11th hour citizenship question into the 2020 Census,” said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “This is a clear attempt to politicize the process by discouraging minority communities and immigrant communities from participating in the count. This decision comes at a time when we have seen xenophobic and anti-immigrant policy positions from this administration. This is an arbitrary and untested decision that all but guarantees that the Census will not produce a full and accurate count of the population as the constitution requires.”

Clarke continued, “while Secretary Ross claims that the citizenship question will help with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the reality is that the Justice Department has proven hostile to safeguarding minority voting rights. Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act has come to a grinding halt. Clearly, this is mere pretext to mask the discriminatory motives underlying this move.”

Advocates at the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) put it this way:

“The ramifications of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census is extremely anti-immigrant and intended to deter millions of immigrants from participating for fear of being targeted by this administration. If there is any question of just how radical this effort is, consider that every census since the first enumeration in 1790 included people living in the United States, citizens and non-citizens alike.

This is a direct attempt to undermine our democracy. We are going to fight this with everything we have. We will do everything within our power to ensure that this decision is reversed and that our communities continue to be counted.”

And this morning the state of California challenged the action in federal court. This is from a story at CNN.com:

Progressives, states and civil rights advocates are preparing a flurry of legal challenges to the Trump administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the next census, saying the move will penalize immigrants and threaten civil rights.

The late Monday move from the Commerce Department, which it said came in response a request by the Justice Department, would restore a question about citizenship that has not appeared on the census since the 1950s. The administration said the data was necessary to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The state of California immediately challenged the plan in federal court.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla trashed the move as anti-immigrant.

“The citizenship question is the latest attempt by President Trump to stoke the fires of anti-immigrant hostility,” Padilla said in a statement.

“Now, in one fell swoop, the US Commerce Department has ignored its own protocols and years of preparation in a concerted effort to suppress a fair and accurate census count from our diverse communities. The administration’s claim that it is simply seeking to protect voting rights is not only laughable, but contemptible.”

For more information on this development, check out Julianne Hing’s article at The Nation.

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