Commentary, Defending Democracy

Another editorial blasts Trump Census question, backs NC’s lawsuit against it

Be sure to check out the lead editorial in this morning’s Fayetteville Observer, (“Question will distort NC census count”). After explaining that no one has a solid count on the number of undocumented immigrants in North Carolina and the Trump administration’s laughable explanation that it hopes to get a better count by asking about people’s citizenship status on the Census, the editorial puts it this way:

“Nice try, but the idea is dripping with unintended consequences. It’s more likely to send immigrants running from census enumerators and creating an inaccurate count, especially in states like this one, with a large immigrant population.

The problem is, people who are here legally might run too. Statistics compiled by the American Immigration Council show that there are about 200,000 American citizens in North Carolina who have at least one undocumented immigrant in their household. Those are households that may work hard to avoid being counted. There is plenty of evidence out there about what happens in immigrant communities where there is fear that cooperating with government officials can result in raids and deportation. People — even those in the U.S. legally — tend to disappear into the shadows.

That’s why adding the citizenship question to the next census form is a bad idea. It’s likely to result in inaccurate counts, and a significant undercount in states like this one. An undercount has real consequences. This state gets billions of dollars in federal aid every year, and in most cases that aid is based on census numbers. A decline in head count becomes a decline in revenue, which will either deprive this state of important services or force state taxpayers to take up the slack.

We’re also on the verge of qualifying for an additional seat in Congress. If our population growth continues at its present pace, and declines continue in other states, we’re likely to get a 14th congressional district….

All of those reasons are why we support N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s joining 16 other states, the District of Columbia and multiple major American cities in a suit against the federal government that argues that the addition of a citizenship question is unconstitutional. The bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors has also joined the suit, saying that the citizenship question would ‘fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count.’ The Constitution requires an every-10-year census and the addition of a citizenship question would interfere with an accurate count….

There will be plenty of arguments that the suit — brought by largely Democratic state administrations — is itself a political statement. And for some parties to the suit, it may well be.

But the bottom line for us is the likelihood that the citizenship question will distort the 2020 census results in ways likely to hurt North Carolina.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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