California's Attorney General, Xavier Becerra (D) said a new question included on the 2020 census asking for citizenship status is illegal, and he will sue the Trump administration to remove it.
"We're prepared to do what we must to protect California from a deficient Census. Including a citizenship question on the 2020 census is not just a bad idea — it is illegal," said Becerra in a statement.
#BREAKING: Filing suit against @realdonaldtrump's Administration over decision to add #citizenship question on #2020Census. Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal: https://t.co/vW8sa7khq9— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) March 27, 2018
"Including a citizenship question on the 2020 census is not just a bad idea — it is illegal," Becerra wrote in a Monday San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece along with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
"The size of your child’s kindergarten class. Homeland security funds for your community. Natural disaster preparation. Highway and mass transit resources. Health care and emergency room services.
Vital services such as these would be jeopardized and our voice in government diminished if the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 count resulted in an undercount" -Xavier Becerra
In other words - the U.S. government shouldn't be allowed to ask if U.S. residents are legal citizens, because it may lead to underreporting and therefore fewer benefits and Congressional representation would go to regions with high concentrations of illegal aliens.
Becerra argues that the Constitution requires the government conduct an "actual enumeration" of the total population - which, the California AG argues, should be conducted regardless of citizenship.
The census has a specific constitutional purpose: to provide an accurate count of all residents, which then allows for proper allotment of congressional representatives to the states. The Census Bureau has a long history of working to ensure the most accurate count of the U.S. population in a nonpartisan manner, based on scientific principles.
Separately, former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he is also filing a lawsuit to stop the citizenship question from being included in the 2020 census.
"We will litigate to stop the Administration from moving forward with this irresponsible decision," Holder said in a Tuesday morning statement. "The addition of a citizenship question to the census questionnaire is a direct attack on our representative democracy. This question will lower the response rate and undermine the accuracy of the count, leading to devastating, decade-long impacts on voting rights and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding. By asking this question, states will not have accurate representation and individuals in impacted communities will lose out on state and federal funding for health care, education, and infrastructure."
As The Hill notes, the DOJ under Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed for the inclusion of the question - arguing that it would allow Justice to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.
The census question has led lawmakers and pundits alike to opine on the legality, morality and practicality of such a move:
Kamala: The census is just trying to find all your voters (illegal). https://t.co/DBWYxx0tWz— thebradfordfile (@thebradfordfile) March 27, 2018
U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Reinstatement of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Decennial Census | The Left is going ballistic because they don't want Americans to know the full extent of the illegal alien invasion. https://t.co/OyXyLRPRzu— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) March 27, 2018
So liberals say asking about citizenship in the census is illegal, but they won't say illegal immigrants being here is illegal?— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) March 27, 2018
The federal census is NOT a tool to rally the President’s base. It’s a constitutionally mandated count of every single PERSON living in this country.— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) March 27, 2018
More important than ever to pass my bill to prevent this w/ @CoryBooker @maziehirono & many @SenateDems https://t.co/RbU1Z2wEPk https://t.co/VC8Wfu1r7A
By adding a citizenship question to the #2020Census, @SecretaryRoss has succumbed to the hateful, nativist views that are the hallmark of this administration & deliberately compromised the integrity of the #Census for political purposes. https://t.co/fVMRJYtiqK— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) March 27, 2018
#CitizenshipMatters Apportionment for Congressional seats and electoral votes should be based on citizens, not on residents. Otherwise citizens are underrepresented... For example, California gets roughly three extra members of Congress based on estimates of illegal residents. https://t.co/Acq02zM4Ev— Warren Davidson (@WarrenDavidson) March 27, 2018
It will be interesting to see how this is somehow spun as a Russian trick by the usual suspects...