Alabama thrust itself into an intense partisan confrontation last month when it filed a lawsuit opposing the counting of undocumented immigrants for congressional reapportionment purposes in the 2020 U.S. Census. Critics believe Alabama, much like the federal government through its decision to back a citizenship question on the 2020 forms, is aiming to “weaponize” the program for political gain. But backers of the lawsuit filed by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, argue that the state is testing legal waters in an attempt to salvage one of the state’s seven congressional seats and one of its nine electoral votes.
National: Documents Show Political Lobbying in Census Question About Citizenship | The New York Times
Documents released in a lawsuit attempting to block the inclusion of a question about citizenship in the 2020 census show lobbying by anti-immigration hard-liners for the question’s inclusion, and resistance on the part of some census officials to asking it. The Kansas secretary of state, Kris W. Kobach, who has taken a strong position against illegal immigration and was appointed by President Trump to a now-defunct panel on voter fraud, had advocated to include the question directly with the secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, according to the documents. In a July 2017 email to an aide to Mr. Ross, Mr. Kobach said that he had reached out to the secretary a few months earlier “on the direction of Steve Bannon,” then the White House chief strategist.
Civil rights lawyers sued the U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday to try to stop plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Manhattan federal court lawsuit on behalf of immigrants’ rights groups says racial animus was behind a recent announcement that the census will include a citizenship question for the first time since 1950. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, claims the question intentionally discriminates against immigrants and will increase fear in their communities. It alleges census participation will be depressed, diluting the economic and political power of residents.
State-level Republicans are pouncing on the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census as a way to boost their electoral advantage in the next round of redistricting. Missouri Republicans last week advanced a measure that would put on November’s ballot a constitutional amendment to require state legislative districts to be drawn using the number of citizens, rather than total population. Two Republicans defected from the otherwise 90-34 party line House vote. Asked during a Friday floor debate over how Missouri would implement the requirement, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dean Plocher (R), pointed specifically to the fact that the citizenship question will be on the next Census.
The acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, John Gore, has agreed to testify about why the department requested a controversial, new citizenship question to be added to 2020 census forms, according to a DOJ official and Amanda Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Lawmakers were planning to issue a subpoena for Gore, who was a no-show after receiving an invitation to appear at the committee’s May 8 hearing about the upcoming national headcount. Gore has now “agreed to appear voluntarily” at a follow-up hearing on May 18, and was not served a subpoena, Gonzalez says.
Lawsuits are piling up against the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The nonpartisan Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the citizenship question on behalf of the City of San Jose and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. The suit was filed against the Commerce Department in the Northern District of California. The lawsuit is the fourth legal challenge that’s been brought since Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross agreed in March to grant a request from the Department of Justice to reinstate the citizenship question on the 2020 census.
The success of the 2020 census, which will be the first to include an online survey, could hinge on a single “dress rehearsal” underway right now in Rhode Island — and so far, many locals aren’t impressed. Providence County, the state’s most populous, is the only place where the Census Bureau is running a full test, after plans to test two other sites this year were canceled because of a lack of funding from Congress. A planned question about citizenship that has states suing the federal government isn’t on the test. Several elected officials and leaders of advocacy and community groups this week held an “emergency press conference” to raise concerns, which include a shortage of publicity around the test and its limited language outreach in an immigrant-heavy county, with large communities from countries including the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Portugal and Cape Verde.
A group of U.S. states and cities sued the Trump administration to stop it from asking people filling out 2020 census forms whether they are citizens. The lawsuit by 17 states, Washington D.C. and six cities challenged what they called last week’s “unconstitutional and arbitrary” decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, to add the citizenship question. It was also a fresh challenge to what New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, at a press conference announcing the lawsuit, called the administration’s “anti-immigrant animus.” All of the states bringing the case have Democratic attorneys general. They were joined by New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Providence, Rhode Island, which all have Democratic mayors, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Another state, California, filed a similar lawsuit last week.
National: Trump administration says a citizenship question on the census will help enforce voting rights. Sure. | Los Angeles Times
He went ahead and did it. Of course he did. Bashing California is way too much fun and easy for President Trump. California Democratic leaders shouldn’t be shocked. Politically, they had it coming, proudly emerging as the president’s chief antagonist while revving up their liberal and Latino bases. Not that Trump didn’t deserve it. He has been feeding his political base by assailing California and immigrants in the country illegally since first running for president. But when a state plays hardball with a president — especially a brawler like Trump — it should expect to get hit hard. A president always has a bigger bat.
Editorials: The bitter lie behind the census’s citizenship question | Vanita Gupta/The Washington Post
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed a crucial test of leadership this week. Buckling to President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and their anti-immigrant agenda, Ross agreed to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, sacrificing the integrity, fairness and accuracy of the count. For the good of our democracy, Congress must overturn his decision. Ross testified just last week that he was still considering the Justice Department’s last-minute, “very controversial request” (as he put it) to jam an untested, unnecessary question about citizenship status onto the 2020 questionnaire. That request drew intense opposition from a nonpartisan and ideologically broad group of business leaders, state and local officials, social scientists, and civil and human rights advocates who know how much is at stake with a fair and accurate census.