Dems blast new citizenship question on census

Source: The Hill

By Juliegrace Brufke

Democrats are calling for the elimination of a question on citizenship slated to be placed on census forms starting in 2020, arguing that its addition is a “discriminatory decision” by the Trump administration.

The Democratic backlash follows the Department of Commerce’s announcement that the citizenship question would be reinstated Monday evening. 

“Including a citizenship question in the #2020Census only serves to suppress participation & will result in inaccurate data that does not reflect the makeup of our nation,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tweeted, adding they believe it furthers “an anti-immigrant agenda.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued the move “violates the clear constitutional mandate to provide an accurate count of all people living in the United States.”

Pelosi alleged the administration is prioritizing the issue so they can fundraise off it, calling on Congress to pass Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-N.Y.) bill, the 2020 Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy Act, to prevent the change from being implemented. 

“This detrimental change will inject fear and distrust into vulnerable communities, and cause traditionally undercounted communities to be even further under-represented, financially excluded and left behind. It is disturbing that the president pushed this decision as a dog-whistle tactic to raise funds for his campaign committee,” Pelosi said in a statement.

“The Trump Administration put politics over the Constitution and, in so doing, ignored the consensus views of former Census Bureau directors of both parties and the conclusions of the Census Bureau’s own recent study, which warns of ‘an unprecedented groundswell in confidential and data sharing concerns, particularly among immigrants or those who live with immigrants.’”

Maloney, who introduced legislation to negate the move last week, said the administration is attempting to “cripple the accuracy of the 2020 census for partisan political gain,” and called for members of both parties to back her bill.

“It is America’s largest peace-time undertaking and it guides the distribution of nearly 700 billion in federal funding, and it also shapes the apportionment and representation of federal, state and local jurisdictions,” she told The Hill. “I would say it’s the foundation of our democracy and requires years of planning and preparation before the enumeration process even begins. This bill is crafted to prohibit any late, untested operational design changes or questions that introduce great risk to the accuracy, cost and public participation in the decennial census.”

While Democrats blasted the decision, it was met with praise from immigration hard-liners like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.). 

“I applaud Secretary Ross for honoring this request by my colleagues and me,” Cruz said in a statement. “It is imperative that the data gathered in the census is reliable, given the wide-ranging impacts it will have on U.S. policy. A question on citizenship is a reasonable, commonsense addition to the census.”

Inhofe dismissed allegations that adding the question would lead to an inaccurate depiction of who is living in the country. 

“Accurate census data that reflects the total number of U.S. citizens is a vital part of our democracy,” Inhofe said. “Without it, we can’t responsibly ensure equal representation for states in the House of Representatives or assess voter participation. I applaud the Census Bureau for adding this common-sense question.”

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