On Wednesday, the ACLU announced it was filing a federal lawsuit to prevent the federal government from asking on the U.S. census whether the respondent is a U.S. citizen.
That question has not been asked on the census since 1950.
Ceridwen Cherry, Staff Attorney, ACLU Voting Rights Project, writes, “Manipulating the census to discriminate against and disadvantage certain groups violates both the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection and the constitutional obligation that the census counts every living person in the United States, not just every citizen.”
Cherry rants over what she calls the Trump administration’s “animus toward immigrant communities,” citing comments President Trump has made and his “anti-immigrant policies,” one of which she claims is the “forced separation of immigrant children from their parents,” which, as those who don’t engage in fake news know, occurred before Trump was president.
Lower response rates will be catastrophic for communities and states with large immigrant populations. As a result of an undercounting of their residents, states may lose seats in Congress and crucial federal funding that is tied to census results. The 2020 census data will also be used by states to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Depressing census response rates in already underrepresented communities will allow politicians to draw even more skewed legislative districts and further dilute the political power of these communities. That result plays directly into a longstanding Trump administration plan to exclude non-citizens when apportioning legislative districts as a way to further strip the political power of immigrant communities.
As has been noted by Pew Research, the reason the Justice Department wants the question included is that it uses data about eligible voters to help enforce protections for minority voters under the federal Voting Rights Act.