• Carolyn Maloney

Abandon the appeal

Let it go.

Immigrant advocates in New York rejoiced when a New York federal judge ruled on January 15 against the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census – and they want to keep it that way.

That relief was short-lived, as the administration moved two days later to appeal the ruling, with the U.S. Justice Department filing a notice to ask the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the ruling by District Judge Jesse Furman ordering that the citizenship question be removed.

On January 18, New York City elected officials and immigrant rights groups gathered at the headquarters of service worker union 32BJ SEIU to call on President Donald Trump administration to drop his opposition to the ruling.

They repeated their concerns that the inclusion of a question asking “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” would prevent noncitizens from participating in the Census, leading to a massive undercount.

“We know that while the target of the citizenship question is immigrants, the collateral damage will be felt all throughout New York State,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), which organized the event and helped spearhead a lawsuit against the administration to block the question.

Choi warned that New York stood to lose two Congressional seats in the event of an undercount, and could also miss out on $3,000 in federal funds for every New Yorker not counted.

“We will need to continue to fight,” Choi said.

Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. said that the Census needs to be conducted “without political interference.”

“We are here to say to Donald Trump, that you should accept this legal ruling and move on,” Díaz stated. “We know that we won a battle with the ruling, but the war has not been won yet.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said the court fight lodged by several states and immigrant rights groups was an important one.

“The Census is one of the most important undertakings of government,” Maloney said. “It is one of the few responsibilities of government that is mentioned in the United States Constitution. It is critical to our democracy.”

Maloney praised Judge Furman’s 277-page ruling, which called the addition of a citizenship question “partisan politics.”

“We need to be organizing on the community level with all of the not-for-profits and all of the outreach programs to make sure our people are counted,” she said.

Maloney said would introduce legislation, known as the Census Idea Act, which would prohibit the use of a citizenship question.

Shirley Aldebol, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU, noted that her union’s members hail from 64 different countries, and remarked that the addition of the question would be “a serious weapon that’s going to be used against immigrants, working people, and community of color.”

“The Trump administration is going to continue to push this issue through the courts until they find a court that will agree with him,” Aldebol. “We applaud [Maloney] in asking Congress to legislatively bar the citizenship question from the Census.”

“Many people believe that this case will ultimately end up before the Supreme Court,” added Maloney.

Díaz remarked that if the legal battle to block the citizenship question proved unsuccessful, he planned to not answer it.

“I’m only speaking for myself,” he said. “If there are 10 questions, I only plan to answer nine in an act of solidarity and perhaps [as] an act of civil disobedience. I’m only planning to answer nine. It’s the biggest single biggest way that we can show that we are not fearful of his hate mongering and his hate tactics.”

©2019