United States adds citizenship question to 2020 census; AG Maura Healey will sue

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Progressives, states and civil rights advocates are preparing a flurry of legal challenges to the Trump administration's decision to add a question about citizenship to the next census, saying the move will penalize immigrants and threaten civil rights. Last month a coalition of 19 state attorneys general signed onto a letter to the Department of Commerce urging the question be rejected.

"Innocuous at first blush, its effect would be truly insidious", he wrote in a joint op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle with the California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

The population count, which occurs every 10 years, is a Constitutional requirement used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House as well as how federal funds are distributed to local communities.

The Trump administration has provoked threats of lawsuits and a backlash from senior Democrats after deciding to reinstate a controversial question about citizenship status in the next United States census. He also argued that the lateness of the request is impractical; states could lose representatives in Congress and federal funding due to a wrong Census tally; and that the request actually makes it harder to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Non-citizens do not have the right to vote in federal and state elections.

"We are glad to stand with NY and the other participating states in challenging this unnecessary question regarding citizenship status - both to protect New Jersey residents and ensure a fair and accurate census", Grewal said.

Law professor Nathaniel Persily identified some of issues related to the Voting Rights Act in a 2011 law review article for the Cardozo Law Review.

"Having citizenship data at the census block level will permit more effective enforcement of the VRA", a statement from the Department of Commerce reads. Schneiderman will lead a multi-state lawsuit challenging the question, he announced Tuesday.

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In a statement, the Commerce Department pointed to previous census questions as justification for the shift.

The population count taken every 10 years is more than an academic exercise.

California sued the Trump administration over its plan to ask the citizenship status of participants in the 2020 census, claiming the change will repress responses.

"Counting the number of USA citizens in the country should be a high priority of the census, and the only way to get an accurate count is to add a question about citizenship to the census itself", Cotton said. "The administration's decision to add a citizenship question is at best a dramatic misstep, and at worst a politically-motivated move that will undermine a fair and accurate census", Weiser said.

MA has an all-Democratic congressional delegation and its Electoral College votes have gone to the Democratic presidential nominee in 13 of the last 15 presidential elections.

But advocates for immigrants, and for states like MA with large immigrant populations, said immigrants would be less likely to fill out the census if they had to answer a question on citizenship.

Former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder has described the Trump administration action as a "direct attack on our representative democracy" and we inclined to agree.

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