Census will ask about citizenship; California sues

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The decision aims to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, the Commerce Department said on March 26, prompting California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to announce the lawsuit against the Trump administration in a bid to block the move. "Between 1820 and 1950, nearly every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form", the statement read.

Opponents of a 2020 Census question about citizenship status say it could further discourage immigrants from participating in the count, especially when they are already fearful of how information could be used against them.

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It is used to determine the allocation to states of seats in the US.House of Representatives and to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities.

California sued the Trump administration over its plan to ask the citizenship status of participants in the 2020 census, claiming the change will repress responses. The Census Bureau says that the 2010 census drew a massive response, with about 74 percent of the households mailing in forms and the remaining households counted by workers in neighborhoods. "Secretary Ross determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government objective outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts". Researchers said respondents had specific fears about sharing confidential information with researchers, and attributed it to moves from the Trump administration to target immigrants and people of color such as the Muslim travel ban, the dismantling of DACA, and the empowerment of ICE agents.

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Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution calls for a census to be taken every decade for the goal of apportioning seats to the House of Representatives, according to the number of "free persons" residing in each state.

Schneiderman says the decision to add the question "directly targets" states with large immigrant populations.

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"It is long settled that all persons residing in the United States - citizens and non-citizens alike - must be counted to fulfill the Constitution's "actual Enumeration" mandate", the lawsuit stated. An aide to Healey said she already meant to join a multi-state lawsuit, led by the NY attorney general Eric Schneiderman. Democratic states with high immigrant populations fear the citizenship question will cause an undercount in their states, which could lead to diminished political representation in Congress. Legislation that specifically addresses the citizenship question has also been introduced in the Senate. "We will sue to ensure a fair and accurate Census that counts the people of MA". GOP Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas had sent a letter to the Commerce Department asking Ross to add the question. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, praised Ross for announcing the decision to include a citizenship question, calling it a "reasonable, common sense addition to the census". "Today, surveys of sample populations, such as the Current Population Survey and the ACS, continue to ask a question on citizenship". Healey has not been shy about bringing lawsuits against the federal government when she believes US policy under President Donald Trump will harm MA.

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