Shortly after Trump’s Commerce Department announced that the 2020 U.S. census would include a question that asked people whether they are citizens or not, Democrats all over the country vowed to fight it in the courts and also in the halls of Congress.
The Democrats of course see the issue as one that is vital to their electoral strength. They believe the question will frighten census respondents who think that they might be deported by the Trump Administration. And of course, they believe the Republicans are doing this solely to give themselves more political power.
New York state has announced the attorney general will fight to block the question being on the 2020 census, and the attorney general of California has already filed a lawsuit.
The Senate Majority Leader was quick to denounce the plan also. “Let’s call this like it is: The census, written about and hallowed in the Constitution, is being distorted by this administration for political purposes. President Trump and (Commerce) Secretary (Wilbur) Ross should be ashamed of themselves,” Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “Hopefully, the courts will correct this glaring abuse.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said a census citizenship question is a violation of the “constitutional mandate to provide an accurate count of all people living in the United States.”
“This detrimental change will inject fear and distrust into vulnerable communities, and cause traditionally undercounted communities to be even further under-represented, financially excluded and left behind,” she added.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the decision a “direct attack on our representative democracy,” and vowed to sue to prevent the question from ever appearing on the census.
What’s at stake for Democrats is this: If all immigrants living in the United States are not counted, as required by the Constitution, then states with a large number of immigrants (especially California and New York) may lose congressional seats, which would shift even more political power to rural areas with sparse populations that tend to be conservative and vote overwhelmingly Republican.
Expressing these concerns, U.S. Representative Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who is from the borough of Queens in New York City, said the decision to add the citizenship question was “deeply troubling and reckless.” Rep. Meng said she would try to quickly sponsor a bill in the House of Representatives that would prevent the question being included in the census.
“Many immigrants who are fearful of deportation under the current Administration will simply choose to not participate in the census out of fear that the information they provide will be used against them,” she said in a statement.
Along with gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, adding a citizenship question to the U.S. Census is just another way for Republicans to attempt to remain in power using means that are often illegal and unconstitutional.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.