The testimony comes ahead of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Hearing on “Questions Regarding the U.S. Census
Washington, D.C. – Today, ahead of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Hearing on “Questions Regarding the U.S. Census”, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law submitted official testimony challenging the Trump administration’s inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census.
On March 26, 2018, the Department of Commerce, at the direction of Secretary Wilbur Ross, set aside decades of practice and announced the 2020 decennial census will include a question asking the citizenship status of every respondent.
“We urge Congress to use every tool in its arsenal to hold the Commerce Department accountable for its unfortunate 11th hour attempt to hijack the 2020 Census. This administration’s insertion of a citizenship question is legally baseless, untested, and unprecedented,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It will exacerbate the long-standing, historical undercount of African Americans, Latinos and other minority communities during each decennial census. The Justice Department’s argument that it needs to acquire this data to effectively enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is tenuous at best. At worst, it is an insidious method to undermine the minority vote – the modus operandi of this Trump administration – and obstructs efforts to ensure a fair and accurate Census count.”
The hearing comes against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s ongoing hard-lined approach to illegal immigration enforcement, including the recent introduction of a “zero-tolerance” policy calling for the prosecution of all individuals who illegally enter the United States. While there is no distinction made in the Constitution between citizens and non-citizens, or documented and undocumented immigrants, the citizenship question will likely deter participation in the census, resulting in an undercount of immigrant communities and communities of color.
In April, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Public Counsel, along with law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the City of San Jose and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration against the United States Department of Commerce in the Northern District of California. The lawsuit challenges the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census and seeks an injunction prohibiting the Census Bureau from including the question on the next census.
See the full testimony here.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.