The US Supreme Court today blocked the Trump administration from including a citizenship question in the 2020 census, reports the Mercury News.
Asian Americans and Hispanics had argued the question was included specifically to discourage immigrants from filling out the census. The Census is used to determine federal funding for various communities.
The victory, however, for the plaintiffs in the case may be only temporary. The June 30 printing deadline for the Census could be extended by the Census Bureau, thus giving the Trump administration more time to explain the question and get it back onto the census form.
However, NBC News reports its unlikely the Commerce Department will have enough time to make that happen.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority in the ruling. However, he joined the conservative majority on the court in stating the citizenship question, by itself, is not unconstitutional.
In recent weeks, evidence surfaced that the Trump administration specifically designed the question to lead to an under count of minorities. Republicans have largely become a party of Whites. Under counting minorities could lead to a reduction of electoral college votes for Democratic-leaning districts.
“We are gratified that the Court saw through the pretext offered by the Commerce Department regarding the need for the citizenship question,” said John Yang, President and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “We are confident that the evidence will demonstrate that the Commerce Department wanted the inclusion of this question for improper, discriminatory reasons. We believe that the clock is running out and that the Commerce Department should abandon its efforts to include a citizenship question for Census 2020.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund both sued to block the question based on the new evidence. Others joined in support.
“We applaud the Supreme Court for upholding the sanctity of the census,” said Sung Yeon Choimorrow , executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. “In a political climate where citizenship questions have separated families and caused an uptick in racial profiling across the country, this question would have intimidated many immigrant communities from participating. Our communities deserve better from our government.”
New American Leaders, a non-partisan group dedicated to bringing immigrants into the political process joined in supporting the decision.
“By rejecting the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census, the Supreme Court recognized what we already knew—that Trump’s request was driven by nothing but bigotry, discrimination and a brazen attempt to gerrymander districts to maintain the status quo,” said founder and president Sayu Bhojwani, who was born in India. “Their decision means that people of color, immigrants and New Americans will have their voices heard and communities represented in 2020 and beyond.”
The Leadership Conference Education Fund, also cheered the ruling, but said the fight is not over.
” The specter of the question has heightened fear and mistrust in communities and discouraged some from participating in the census. All hands are on deck to ensure everyone is counted,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO and former head of the Civil Rights division in the Justice Department under the Obama administration.
In San Francisco, Chinese for Affirmative Action today also emphasized the community must mobilize to encourage full participation in the census.
“CAA will work closely with the City of San Francisco to ensure that all hard-to-count communities are receiving accurate and reliable information about the Census to dispel fear and motivate participation,” says Hong Mei Pang, Director of Advocacy at CAA. “We will ensure that our communities are receiving their fair share of resources and political representation, strengthen the safeguards available for immigrants, subvert panic and restore power to marginalized communities through a successful Census in 2020.”
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