Pennsylvania Joins Multistate Lawsuit to Block Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

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Credits: U.S. Census Bureau

Pennsylvania through its Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined a multistate lawsuit to block the inclusion of citizenship question in the 2020 Census.

A coalition of 18 Attorneys General, six cities, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors is suing the Trump administration regarding the matter.

They argued that demanding citizenship information would depress participation in states with large immigrant population. Therefore, it threatens those states from having fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College. It also threatens their share in billions of dollars in critical federal funding for education, infrastructure, Medicaid, and others.

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In the lawsuit, they argued the federal government’s action is inconsistent with constitution and statutory obligations of the Census Bureau.

2020 Census must be accurate and fair

In a statement, AG Shapiro said the Trump administration’s move to include the citizenship question “might seem innocuous.” However, he emphasized that adding it to the 2020 Census will depress turnout. Thus, it will result into an inaccurate Census count that will hurt Pennsylvania.

According to him, “The United States Constitution requires a full count of all residents, whether they are citizens or not. It’s vital that the 2020 Census be conducted fairly, accurately and in accordance with the law so Pennsylvania receives the representation and federal resources we deserve.”

AG Shapiro noted that Pennsylvania is home to 870,000 non-citizens, representing 3.3% of the state’s total population. Additionally, he pointed out that non-citizens in Philadelphia pay approximately $6 billion in taxes annually.

Furthermore, he said, “Immigrants – both naturalized citizens and legal residents – are key members of our communities. They open new businesses, create job opportunities and generate tax revenue.”

“All people residing in Pennsylvania, including students, those with work visas, and people with green cards, must be included in our population count in order to ensure Pennsylvania gets our fair share of federal resources.”

Moreover, AG Shapiro cited the fact that eight former directors of the Census Bureau affirmed that a citizenship question will lead to a significant undercount, undermining the purpose of the Census.

New York AG Schneiderman led the filing of the case

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led the filing of the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  He said, “For decades, administrations from both parties have treated this constitutional requirement with the respect and reverence it deserves. Now, the Trump administration…is recklessly abandoning nearly 70 years of practice by demanding to know the citizenship status of each resident counted.”

Last week, California AG Xavier Becerra sued the Trump administration over its decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census.