Census Citizenship Question Illegally Discriminates Against Immigrants

UPDATE (3/21/2019): On Jan. 15, a federal court blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, stating that it constitutes an “egregious” violation of federal law. Judge Furman concluded that if the Trump administration got its way and a citizenship question was put on the census, “hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people will go uncounted.” The Trump administration has appealed the ruling and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. The ACLU will appear before the Supreme Court on April 23, 2019. 

For the first time since 1950, the census will ask respondents whether or not they are U.S. citizens. It may seem innocuous, but the addition of the question — in essence, a door-to-door government inquiry as to the citizenship status of every member of every household in the United States — will have far reaching consequences. It will dramatically reduce participation by immigrant communities, stunting their growing political influence and depriving them of economic benefits.

This is not an unintended side effect. It’s the reason the Trump administration sought to add the question, rejecting the advice of Census Bureau’s professional staff, its scientific advisory committee, and five previous census directors from both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Manipulating the census to discriminate against and disadvantage certain groups violates both the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection and the constitutional obligation that the census counts every living person in the United States, not just every citizen. The Trump administration must not be permitted to use the census as a tool to carry out its discriminatory designs — which is why the ACLU and partners have filed a federal lawsuit to block the question’s inclusion before it’s too late. 

The Trump administration has claimed that the Justice Department needs citizenship information in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Its pure pretext — the Voting Rights Act has been enforced by the government and private parties for over 50 years and during that time the Justice Department has never had access to individual level citizenship data. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has provided no explanation, let alone a detailed analysis, as to why gathering citizenship data through the census is suddenly necessary.

What the administration has done, however, is make its animus toward immigrant communities abundantly clear. Since taking office, President Trump has routinely denigrated immigrants — calling them “rapists,” “terrorists,” and asking “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here,” and stating his preference for immigrants “from places like Norway.” His administration’s hostility is evident in a sweeping range of anti-immigrant policies, including the issuance of the Muslim ban, the rescission of DACA, the ending of temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have resided in the United States for years, criminal prosecutions of asylum seekers, increased ICE raids and deportations, and the forced separation of immigrant children from their parents.

Like these policies, the citizenship question is specifically designed to harm immigrants and instill fear among their members. In fact, the Trump administration added the question with the full knowledge that Census Bureau personnel had recently issued specific warnings that Spanish-speakers, Arab-speakers, and Chinese-speakers, among others, were already expressing unprecedented levels of concern about participating in the census.

Lower response rates will be catastrophic for communities and states with large immigrant populations. As a result of an undercounting of their residents, states may lose seats in Congress and crucial federal funding that is tied to census results. The 2020 census data will also be used by states to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Depressing census response rates in already underrepresented communities will allow politicians to draw even more skewed legislative districts and further dilute the political power of these communities. That result plays directly into a longstanding Trump administration plan to exclude non-citizens when apportioning legislative districts as a way to further strip the political power of immigrant communities.

In fact, anti-immigrant crusader Kris Kobach, who publicly stated that he had proposed the idea of the citizenship question to Trump, made clear that the goal was “so Congress [can] consider excluding illegal aliens from the apportionment process.” This strategy has already proven successful. Following the addition of the citizenship question to the census, legislators in Missouri recently introduced a bill to amend its constitution to draw state legislative districts using only citizens, rather than total population. And the state of Alabama filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent counting undocumented immigrants when apportioning congressional seats.

If the citizenship question is permitted to stand, other states seeking to further this nativist agenda are likely to follow suit.

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Anonymous

ILLEGAL ALIENS have no rights here. They are criminals they think that’s they never broke the laws. When they come across the border with out proper paperwork that is breaking the laws. Asking if you’re an America citizens is not discrimination. The only discrimination is against AMERICANS CITIZENS who have to work for low wages because of illegal aliens. E-VERIFY should be manitory in every state. No jobs no illegal aliens. Call your congressperson/senator and tell them make E-VERIFY a law.

Anonymous

asking an important question needed to help manage our government is not discrimination. preventing illegal immigrants from being part of our electoral process is not discrimination. this is just childish. the left simply wants to use illegal immigrants for votes (like the 9 extra electoral votes given to california due to its illegals) and so they are convincing soft hearted children that there is some fundamental issue with asking citizenship on the census. ridiculous.

Anonymous

wow. i just have to say, you are getting DESTROYED in your own comments section ACLU. no one buys this shit. you are losing your audience and if you and the rest of the left dont change tactics it will be generations before you regain any meaningful amount of political influence... literally, generations.

Anonymous

The citizenship question should be asked and the response should be validated. Funding and public office seats are at stake and illigal immigrants have no right to be represented and a state like California should not benefit from funding as a result of the illegal population.

Anonymous

The question is a nonissue and a political straw man, why is the ACLU wasting time on it? One, the id of all persons responding is sealed for 72 years. Two, it is not just about distribution of taxes but the distribution of political power based on number of people in a region (congressional representation), which is solely for benefit of the us citizens not citizens of other nations You can not do both at the same time, they are mutually exclusive .

This combined with the recent changes to the organization's approach to free speech it seems the ACLU has joined the fourth estate and are now the whores of a political ideology. You sold yourself, so how much for you support?

Anonyman

"It will dramatically reduce participation by immigrant communities"
Objection! conjecture.
ACLU thinks so lowly of our legal immigrants I guess.
How does it "discriminate" exactly when they return the census saying they are present. It's up to the sanctuary city if they want to pour citizens $ into non citizen areas.
The law (remember those)says you have to answer census questions. Surely our esteemed undocumented would never flout the law(again). Everything citizens have to to is optional to these hoodlums.

Sukanth David

You should be ashamed to call yourself an Attorney. You took an oath to uphold the United States law and yet you join hands with criminals who break our law. You are here to fight for people who uphold the law, not break the law. The right thing to do is to deport people who break our immigration law and enter the country illegally. It was wrong for Census to not have this question for the last 70 years. Trump is doing the right thing by adding this question. As a legal immigrant, who is not yet a citizen, I will very gladly note in the Census that I am not yet a citizen of the United States and I will state my country as India. I am proud to be an Indian who is contributing to American society and want to be a citizen when the law permits.
You rogues should stop mixing illegal immigrants with immigration. There is a difference between legal immigration and illegal immigration and that distinction cannot be erased. Then there will be no difference between law-abiding immigrants and crooks who break the law, who break the line, who don't care about the United States. These illegals they care about themselves and will do anything to survive. All they care about is survival. They will commit crimes to survive and they are proud of it. And you are encouraging them with your stupid stand. You are aiding and abetting illegal immigration and you should be prosecuted for it.
As for these illegal immigrants paying taxes, you are right. Certain people pay some taxes. But think about it. These low-skilled people make minimum wage. So they are not coming in any tax brackets. Let us say, they make about $30000 per annum. $24000 is exempt as the standard deduction. If they pay about 10% tax on $6000. They pay $600 per annum in income tax. On the rest of the $24000, they spend most of it on food, on which there is no tax. If on an average they pay another 5% sales tax on say $12000 for non-food products, they pay another $600 per year. So they pay $1200 per year in taxes.
However, as soon as they land here illegally, they will start giving birth to children. They want to use Children as pawns and human shields. They want the protection of American Citizen children to loot the country. They start sending these children to school. Some of these illegal immigrants who make minimum wages have 3, 4 and sometimes even 5 children. All these children are sent to free public schools on whom the government spends $15000 per child. On top of this, they use food stamps and they get free food for their children in school claiming to be poor. These rogues find all the possible ways to be a public charge. They don't have any shame to break the US immigration laws and they don't have any shame to collect money from the US government in whichever way they can collect. By pay $1200 per annum in taxes, they are collecting anywhere between $20000 to $100000 per annum from the US government. All this money is paid by citizens and legal immigrants like us who make fix figure salaries and pay huge taxes to contribute to the US economy and society. Yet I have only one child.
These people will go to hospitals and don't pay the bills. They don't care if they pay or not. They just want to get freely treated. This will increase the cost for all the people who actually pay, which in turn increases the cost of insurance. Do you see what kind of impact these illegal immigrants have on the US economy and who these people cause misery and pain to all the legal immigrants and citizens.
ACLU used to be a good institution which used to fight for justice. Now you have become a puppet in the hands of the rogue democrat party. Please get back to senses and fight for what is right. Your hatred for God is driving you into the Devil's lap where you will only have suffering. It's time you get your heart right.

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