"Prohibit the Census Bureau from asking about citizenship or immigration status in the 2020 census. "
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Donald Trump is trying to make the census into a racist voter suppression tool. Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently caved to pressure from Trump and Trump's racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions and announced that the 2020 census would have a question about citizenship.1
Asking about citizenship weaponizes the census to perpetuate Trump’s war on immigrant communities. Because the inclusion of the question is likely to result in a significant undercounting of those communities, it also gives Trump and Sessions another way to rig elections for Republicans, from the state to the federal level, until 2030.
Congress can block this racist, right-wing plan, but they have to act now. We need to make our voices heard loud and clear and demand a census where everyone counts.
Sessions asked Ross to include a citizenship question because he said it would help the Department of Justice enforce the Voting Rights Act. Coming from Sessions, a notorious xenophobe with a long history of trying to suppress the vote, such a claim is as laughable as it is appalling. Sessions has repositioned the DOJ so it turns its back on voter suppression and helps promote the myth of voter fraud. Handing him data about citizenship will give him more power to use his office to intimidate voters and attack voting rights in states across the country.
During his campaign, Trump called on his racist supporters to monitor polling places and intimidate Black voters.2 When he took office, he brought together many of the country’s worst voting rights offenders to form a voter suppression commission designed to legitimize the voter fraud myth and expand suppression efforts at the national level.3 Now, he is using the census to supercharge his dangerous attempt to undermine our democracy. Congress has to stop him.
Trump and his cronies have been trying to sabotage the census for months. The Government Accountability Office has already identified the census as a “high risk area” because of underfunding, canceled field tests and the late introduction of new systems and processes.4 The census also lacks competent leadership. Trump nominated Thomas Brunell, who has supported Republican gerrymandering, opposes early voting and has no relevant experience, for the top operational role at the U.S. Census Bureau. Under pressure, he withdrew the nomination, and there is still not a permanent leader for the work.5
The citizenship question is the latest assault. It is likely to suppress participation, resulting in the undercounting of immigrant communities and communities of color. This undercount will mean less federal funding for services in those communities. Just as importantly, states with large immigrant populations are also then at risk of losing seats in state legislatures, Congress and the Electoral College.
In the past few months, 61 members of Congress, civil rights groups and over 160 mayors urged Ross not to include the citizenship question.6 Now that he has taken this dangerous step, the New York and California attorneys general are saying the question is unconstitutional and suing to block it.7 Sens. Hirono, Booker and Menendez recently introduced the Every Person Counts Act. This bill would prohibit the U.S. Census Bureau from asking a question on citizenship or immigration status.8 House Democrats will introduce a companion bill soon.9
We need to fight this extremist attack on our democracy on every front, including in Congress. The more of us who sign, the greater the pressure on Congress. Click the link below to add your name to demand that Congress stop Trump from using the census to discriminate and suppress the vote:
Heidi Hess, CREDO Action
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