Attorney General Tong Joins Fight Against Trump Administration’s Attempts to Undermine Accurate Census Count(Hartford, CT) — Attorney General William Tong today joined a large, coalition of attorneys general, cities, counties, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors in taking legal action against the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the 2020 Decennial Census.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it was reducing the time in which self-response questionnaires will be accepted and door-to-door follow-ups will take place. The coalition filed an amicus brief in National Urban League v. Ross, supporting the plaintiffs’ request for a nationwide stay or preliminary injunction to halt this “rush plan.” The coalition argues that the very integrity of the 2020 Census is at stake, as this expedited schedule will hamstring the bureau’s ongoing efforts to conduct the census and impair the accuracy of its total population counts of each state.
“This rush plan further underscores what we have known all along — the Trump administration has no interest in fulfilling its constitutional duty to count all persons in this census,” said Attorney General Tong. “They have sought to undermine the census count at every step along the way, and we are already seeing lower census participation in Connecticut communities with high immigrant populations. This expedited schedule unlawfully hamstrings our efforts to counter the damaging misinformation that has already been spread. We will continue to fight at every step of the way for a full and fair count.”
“Attempts to recklessly rush the 2020 U.S. Census will risk an egregious undercount of our nation’s population. This deadline is a partisan attempt by the Trump Administration to cheat hard-to-count communities — particularly communities of color and our immigrant population — out of the resources and representation they deserve and are entitled to. Given the COVID-19 public health emergency, we need more time, not less to count every household. With more than $11 billion in federal funding on the line, Connecticut’s most vulnerable communities cannot afford to be undercounted,” said Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz.
In today’s brief, the coalition of 23 attorneys general, 5 cities, 4 counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, argue that states have a direct stake in this dispute, as the decennial census determines their political representation in Congress, provides critical data for redistricting efforts, and affects hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding to states and localities.
An inaccurate census will directly impair those interests, inflicting harms that will persist for the next decade. The administration’s efforts to reduce the time for both self-responses of the questionnaire, as well as non-response follow-up operations for those who don’t respond, will inevitably harm the accuracy of the population count. The shorter time period also flies in the face of what the Census Bureau previously said was necessary to conduct an accurate count, as it alters the deadline that the bureau had adopted specifically to accommodate the unique difficulties posed by COVID-19.
An undercount would severely impact Connecticut, especially immigrant-rich communities. A district court found in a previous ruling on the citizenship question that even a small undercount would deprive these communities of political power in Congress for a decade, hampering their efforts to serve their residents and depriving them of the representation to which they would otherwise be entitled. Additionally, an inaccurate Census count would affect hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding that are dependent on the decennial census’s population count.
Joining Attorney General Tong and James in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. The attorneys general are joined by the cities of Central Falls, RI; Columbus, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; and Pittsburgh, PA. Additionally, Cameron, El Paso, and Hidalgo Counties in Texas; Howard County