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Emails reveal GOP may be conspiring with Census Bureau to undercount Asian Americans and Hispanics

Census Count Protest

Views from the Edge

Newly discovered evidence contradicts the Trump administration’s claims that it added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census simply to enforce the federal Voting Rights Act, and confirms that the purpose was to deprive Asian and Latino Americans of constitutionally protected political representation.

The revelations from the email communications prompted two civil rights agencies to attempt to submit the new evidence to the courts, hoping to affect a Supreme Court decision that will be handed down later this month, perhaps as early as next week.

Court documents filed Friday (June 14) show that the current Chief of Staff to the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau was in direct contact with a Republican redistricting strategist in 2015, concerning issues related to the citizenship question.

The documents submitted to U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel on Friday reveal the first evidence of direct contact between Thomas B. Hofeller, a GOP strategist, and Christa Jones, a Census Bureau official, who was the main intermediary between the Census Bureau and Secretary Ross when the decision was issued in March of 2018.

“They eliminate any colorable doubt about the link between Hofeller and government employees involved in the citizenship question approval process,” write plaintiffs’ attorneys with the law firm Covington & Burling, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) and MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) submitted the new evidence and on Tuesday, June 18, will ask Hazel to reconsider whether the administration conspired with others to intentionally discriminate against Latinos and non-citizens.

“While the Supreme Court has taken up legal claims to remove the Census citizenship question based on violation of the Administrative Procedures Act and the Enumeration clause of the Constitution, there remain very serious questions around the increasingly strong evidence of unconstitutional racial discrimination behind the citizenship question,” said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. 
“These questions must be authoritatively resolved before the Census moves forward; our Census must be free of the horrible taint of unconstitutional discrimination.”

Late last month The New York Times revealed that Hofeller, now deceased, worked with the administration to include a citizenship question as a way to unlawfully advantage “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”

The two civil rights advocates sued the Trump administration in May 2018 on behalf Latino and Asian American individuals, Native Americans, social service non-profits, state legislative associations, civil rights groups, voting rights organizations, and community partnerships that would be forced to divert resources to combat a potential severe undercount in their respective communities.

On April 5, 2019, Hazel ruled that the addition of the citizenship question violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Enumeration Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court, however, fell short of granting MALDEF’s and Advancing Justice | AAJC’s claim that the administration’s intention in adding the question was to discriminate against non-citizens and communities of color in the decennial Census, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and that members of the administration conspired to deprive racial minorities of their constitutional right to equal representation.

Census data are crucial to allocating seats in Congress, drawing accurate election districts and ensuring equitable distribution of federal funds for a wide range of vital programs.

MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC filed an appeal on April 14th in the U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit challenging Judge Hazel’s ruling on the question of whether the motive for adding the citizenship question was unconstitutionally discriminatory. That appeal is moving forward.

Read the brief HERE

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