New York state has joined sixteen other states who have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The lawsuit raises concerns about the legality of a question that is slated to appear on the 2020 United States Census. The controversial question that seems to be causing all the stir is a simple yet powerful one, are you a citizen of the United States?
The United States Census began in 1790 and has occurred every ten years since then. As outlined in the United States Constitution, the taxes shall be divided among the states in amounts that are respective to the population. In layman’s terms, this means the government needs to know how many people reside in each state in order for them to properly divide up the resources such as funding. Population also affects the amount of electoral votes each state receives in a presidential election as well as the number of representatives states, meaning these numbers could have a widespread political effect as well.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneierman (D) joined with sixteen other states as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the District of Columbia and six separate cities to file a federal lawsuit that is intended to stop the 2020 census from including a question that requests a persons citizenship in the United States. The group filing the federal lawsuit believes that this question violates the very laws of the census, which, when outlined in the Constitution, state that the purpose of the census is to simply count the population, not determine citizenship status. This group feels that many people who are not legal citizens of the country will refuse to answer the questions which would therefore make the numbers inaccurate when it comes to the needs of the state. This group also feels as though this is a personal attack on states that have high immigrant populations that are aimed to cut the congressional representation of these states.
It is, in fact, highly likely that those that are in the country without documentation would avoid answering this type of question. The Trump administration has made it quite clear that they have every intention of removing those who do not have proper documentation and new stories arise on a regular basis of deportations happening around the United States. The Department of Justice defended the decision to include the question, which has not been on the census since 1950, stating that they require better information in order for them to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act, a law that was created in order to help secure voting rights to minorities in the country. Section 2, which the DOJ specifically noted, refers to prohibiting any voting practices that are deemed discriminatory. Schneiderman was quick to note that the DOJ has yet to bring a single case under Section 2 of the act under the Trump administration, leading everyone to believe he thinks this is a smokescreen for the real motive.
These types of cases are often slow to play out, and with nearly two years before the census even happens it might be awhile before we have answers and a long fight could take place. It is clear that the Trump administration intends to push this topic heavily and will continue to meet adversaries at every turn. For more information on this topic, click here.