Citizenship question out of 2020 Census: officials

Jul 2, 2019
In The News

Multiple sources including state Attorney General Letitia James and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn) are confirming that the Trump administration has begun printing forms for the 2020 U.S. Census that do not include a citizenship question.

“The ominous storm cloud over the census has been lifted,” Maloney said in a statement emailed to the Chronicle Tuesday evening. “This Administration is finally following the law. Moving forward with the 2020 Census without the citizenship question brings us a step closer to a full and accurate count.”

Earlier in the day, Maloney and Queens Congressional Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau) co-signed a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross telling him they would not support delaying the Census should the Trump administration decide to refile its defense of the question after last week’s loss in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“[W]e do not accept the President’s insinuation that he has the authority to delay the census,” the letter stated.”

Published reports state there had been a delay in printing materials such as mailers. Trump also had spoken of delaying the count; published sources reported Trump was considering unspecified executive action.

The Los Angeles Times reported the White House was prepared to act as early as July 2. New York State is one of the leading parties attempting to block the question, saying the Trump administration’s intent is to drive down participation of immigrants in the country both legally and otherwise; the result could drastically alter things like the amount of federal funding coming into the state.

The Commerce Department cited a request from the Department of Justice to use the citizenship question to help with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, but James called that a pretext in a video of a press conference last week.

James referred to a passage in Chief Justice John Roberts’ 29-page opinion that states the Commerce Department’s rational, based on history of the case, was “unknown, but unrelated to the Voting Rights Act.”

Roberts joined the four liberal justices on the court in remanding the case, but in a separate decision, sided with the four conservatives in ruling, according to Reuters, that “the U.S. Constitution does not in theory prevent the administration from adding a citizenship question.” The chief justice’s opinion listed the numerous times the question has been included on at least some of the questionnaires throughout history. Roberts was troubled by the appearance that the Voting Rights Act rationale appeared to be contrived.

“We are presented, in other words, with an explanation for agency action that is incongruent with what the record reveals  about the agency’s priorities and decisionmaking process,” Roberts wrote.  “... [F]or the sufficient reasons we have explained we cannot ignore the disconnect between the decision made and the explanation given. ...

“Reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation of agency action,” Roberts said in his penultimate sentence. “What was provided here was more of a distraction.”