The state of California has promised to sue President Trump and his administration over their decision to ask the 2020 census respondents if they are citizens of the United States. Xavier Becerra, the state attorney general, announced the suit against the White House administration Monday on Twitter. He posted that the measure would be unlawful.
“Filing suit against @realdonaldtrump’s Administration over the decision to add #citizenship question on #2020Census. Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal,” Becerra wrote.
The Justice Department requested that the Commerce Department add the citizenship question in December. In a statement from the Commerce Department, it said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “has determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire is necessary to provide complete and accurate census block level data.”
Democrats have criticized the announcement saying that the inclusion of a citizenship question amounts to an effort to intimidate immigrant communities and take both money and electoral power away from them.
Becerra and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla published in an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday that the inclusion of a citizenship question would be “illegal” and “an extraordinary attempt by the Trump administration to hijack the 2020 census for political purposes.”
“California, with its large immigrant communities, would be disproportionately harmed by depressed participation in the 2020 census,” they wrote. “An undercount would threaten at least one of California’s seats in the House of Representatives (and, by extension, an elector in the electoral college.)”
But according to the Commerce Department, “almost every decennial census” between 1820 and 1950 “asked a question on citizenship in some form.” They also maintain that the citizenship question would be “the same as the one that is asked on the yearly American Community Survey (ACS).” The ACS is sent to a significantly smaller percentage of American homes than the actual census.
The decennial census count is a requirement of the Constitution, and the results are used to determine federal spending, the number of congressional seats given to each state for the next decade and the number of electoral votes available from each state.