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NY AG Files Suit Against Trump Administration Over Citizenship Question

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Photo Credit: Wikipedia

A multi-state coalition of elected officials, led by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, officially filed a lawsuit in district court to block President Donald Trump and the federal government’s to bring back a question asking about citizen status in the 2020 United States Census.

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Schneiderman - leading a coalition of 18 state Attorneys General and six cities and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors - filed a lawsuit to block the Trump administration from demanding citizenship information in the census, stating that “demanding citizenship information from the census would depress turnout in the states with large immigrant populations, directly threatening those states’ fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College, as well as billions of dollars in critical federal funds for education, infrastructure, Medicaid and more.”

Last week, the Commerce Department announced it would indeed reintroduce the question, which had been asked until 1960. The lawsuit was filed by Attorneys General in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington can be read here.

Stating that the “Trump administration proposes to unlawfully expand purposefully narrow existing protections, without consideration of the consequences,” Schneiderman is being joined by 18 other Attorneys General around the country in filing comments opposing the Trump Department of Health and Human Services’ Proposed Rule, which “seeks to dramatically expand the ability of businesses and individuals to refuse to provide necessary health care on the basis of businesses' or employees’ “‘religious, moral, ethical, or other beliefs."

The lawsuit was officially filed on Tuesday morning in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to officials, “under the Constitution, the Census Bureau has an obligation to determine ‘the whole number of persons in each state.’ Yet demanding citizenship information in the Census is expected to depress participation among immigrants, causing a population undercount that would disproportionately harm states and cities with large immigrant communities. Non-citizens are counted in the Census for the purposes of federal funds, apportioning of congressional seats and Electoral College votes, and the drawing of state and local districts.”

"As today’s lawsuit describes, the administration’s decision is inconsistent with the Census Bureau’s constitutional and statutory obligations, is unsupported by the stated justification, departs from decades of settled practice without reasoned explanation, and fails to consider the availability of alternative data that can effectively serve the federal government’s needs," Schneiderman noted.

Officials also noted that the lawsuit, “also emphasizes the irreparable harm that will result from inaccuracies in the 2020 Census caused by demanding citizenship information. Hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds are directly tied to demographic information obtained through the census, including the Highway Trust Fund and other Department of Transportation grants, Child Care Development Grants, and Medicaid. Consequently, inaccurate counts can potentially deprive states of much-needed funds designed to protect low-income and vulnerable communities.”

“The goal of the U.S. census is to count every person living in this country, regardless of immigration status, so the government can most effectively serve the people,” Westchester Congressman Eliot Engel said in a statement.

“Adding an untested question on citizenship will silence non-citizens, including those with visas, and no doubt suppress the census data. Thus, states like New York with larger immigrant populations will once again feel the pinch and lose critical federal dollars. It’s a blatant attempt by this administration to undercount areas with large immigrant populations and we can’t allow that happen. I’m proud to stand with Attorney General Schneiderman in opposition to this politically motivated, wrongheaded decision.”

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