California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is the first of 19 Democrats to sue the Trump Administration over the decision to ask about citizenship in the 2020 census. The attorney general made the announcement on Twitter Monday.
“Filing suit against @realdonaldtrump’s Administration over decision to add #citizenship question on #2020Census. Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal,” he wrote.
#BREAKING: Filing suit against @realdonaldtrump's Administration over decision to add #citizenship question on #2020Census. Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal: https://t.co/vW8sa7khq9
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) March 27, 2018
While Democrats will publicly argue that the U.S. Census surveys people, not citizens, and that non-citizens will be afraid to take it if the changes move forward, there are truer reasons for their opposition that are not shared publicly.
First, the U.S. Census collects the population data used to determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Second, federal spending is allocated based on data collected by the U.S. Census. Third, it also determines how many electoral votes each state will send to the Electoral College.
Without a citizenship question, illegal immigrants do in fact impact U.S. elections, whether they vote or not.
The Commerce Department said in a statement that the decision to add a citizenship question came after a request by the Justice Department (DOJ) made in December. The statement said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire is necessary to provide complete and accurate census block level data.”
“After a thorough review of the legal, program, and policy considerations, as well as numerous discussions with Census Bureau leadership, Members of Congress, and interested stakeholders, Secretary Ross has determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire is necessary to provide complete and accurate census block level data.”
Historically, the U.S. asked a citizenship question from 1820 to 1950. The Commerce Department also noted that the citizenship question would be the same as the one posed in the annual American Community Survey (ACS).” The major difference is the sample size, with the ACS being a much smaller percentage of households than the actual census.
“The citizenship question will be the same as the one that is asked on the yearly American Community Survey (ACS),” the statement said. “Citizenship questions have also been included on prior decennial censuses. Between 1820 and 1950, almost every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form. Today, surveys of sample populations, such as the Current Population Survey and the ACS, continue to ask a question on citizenship.”
The case will begin in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most liberal and overturned court in the land. Roughly 9 in 10 of the liberal court’s decisions have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The department argues that the Census Act grants the Secretary of Commerce the authority to determine which questions are to be asked on the decennial census. It only requires the list of decennial census questions be submitted to Congress no later than March 31, 2018.