States, DC file suit against census citizenship question

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa speaks against including a citizenship question on the U.S. Census in 2020

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa speaks against including a citizenship question on the U.S. Census in 2020

"The prospect of someone saying 'I'm from the Trump administration, ' and asking for citizenship status will invoke fear", he said.

In Maryland, where almost 15 percent of people are foreign-born and around 250,000 are undocumented, Attorney General Brian Frosh said the question would result in the loss of federal funds for the state and deprive it of fair representation in Congress. The complaint says a plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is unconstitutional.

Critics of the citizenship question say it might dissuade immigrants, and perhaps many citizens, from being counted, with a disproportionate impact on Democratic-leaning states.

The lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by MA, was also joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C., as well as the cities of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, and Seattle, the city and county of San Francisco, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In announcing the lawsuit Tuesday in New York City, Schneiderman called the citizenship question risky and damaging. The attorneys general contend that an undercount violates the constitutional goal of the Census - to conduct an accurate count of all people in the nation - which threatens states' fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College, and will deprive states of a fair share of billions of dollars in federal funding.

CT is joining the mutli-state legal effort to block the Trump administration from including a question about citizenship status to the 2020 U.S. Census. The resultant population undercount would jeopardize the Census Bureau's ability to determine how many people are in each state, threatening states' fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College. "It's vital that the 2020 Census be conducted fairly, accurately and in accordance with the law so Pennsylvania receives the representation and federal resources we deserve".

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Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence and Seattle, as well as the city and county of San Francisco have also signed on as plaintiffs in the case.

Yet as Schneiderman and 18 other states argued in a letter sent to the Commerce Secretary in February, the demand would have precisely the opposite effect by driving down participation in immigrant communities - a concern that is even more acute in today's political climate.

The lawsuit is brought under the Enumeration Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as this action by the Trump administration will impede an "actual Enumeration" required by the Constitution, the state officials said.

That was on display Tuesday in NY, where Democratic lawmakers and immigrant-rights groups staged a rally to announce the lawsuit.

The attorney general said it is estimated that a 1 percent undercount on the 2010 Census would have resulted in less than $23 million in federal funding for Oregon.

Several states already have joined a separate lawsuit filed by California's attorney general last week that seeks to block the citizenship question from being added to the census questionnaire.

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