Connecticut Joins Multistate Lawsuit to Block Trump Administration from Demanding Citizenship Information on 2020 Census
Connecticut today joined a coalition of attorneys general, cities and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors in filing a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump Administration from demanding citizenship information in the 2020 dicennial Census, said Attorney General George Jepsen and Secretary of State Denise Merrill.
The states argue that demanding citizenship information would depress Census turnout in 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. They argue that the U.S. Constitution requires that the Census Bureau determine "the whole number of persons in each state" – citizens and noncitizens alike – and would cause a population undercount that would harm cities and states.
"Adding citizenship as a census question would break from decades of precedent and create a chilling effect on participation in immigrant communities," said Attorney General Jepsen. "Earlier this year, I joined with attorneys general from around the country in urging the Secretary of Commerce to abandon this proposal, and today I am joining multistate litigation, led by the New York attorney general, to challenge the inclusion of this question on the census."
"The administration's decision to ask this question inserts a political agenda into an important government function," said Secretary Merrill. "I'm concerned that doing so deters participation. The census is the foundation of how government resources are allocated. If people don't participate it hurts all of us."
Census Bureau research shows, the decision to demand citizenship information will "inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count" by significantly deterring participation in immigrant communities, because of concerns about how the federal government will use citizenship information.
In 1980, the Census Bureau rejected the addition of a citizenship question, saying, "Any effort to ascertain citizenship will inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count. Obtaining the cooperation of a suspicious and fearful population would be impossible if the group being counted perceived any possibility of the information being used against them. Questions as to citizenship are particularly sensitive in minority communities and would inevitably trigger hostility, resentment, and refusal to cooperate."
In 2009, all eight former Directors of the Census Bureau dating back to 1979 – who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents – affirmed that a citizenship question would depress participation and lead to a significant undercount, undermining the purpose of the Census itself.
Today's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. It was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and, in addition to Connecticut, the plaintiffs include: the states of Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington; the District of Columbia; the cities of New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, and Seattle; and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Assistant Attorney General Mark Kohler, head of the Special Litigation Department, is assisting the Attorney General with this matter.
Please click here to view a copy of the lawsuit filed today.
Jaclyn M. Severance