On June 6, 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union, New York Civil Liberties Union, and Arnold & Porter filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of immigrants’ rights groups challenging the Trump administration’s plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
The groups charge that Trump’s order intentionally discriminates against immigrants and thwarts the constitutional mandate to accurately count the U.S. population. Plaintiffs are Casa de Maryland, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC Research Institute, New York Immigration Coalition, and Make the Road New York.
There has not been a citizenship question on the U.S. decennial census in nearly 70 years. The addition of that question — essentially a door-to-door government inquiry into the citizenship status of every member of every household in the nation — would sow more fear among immigrant communities, ultimately suppressing census participation. It is the reason the Trump administration sought to add the question, rejecting the advice of the Census Bureau’s professional staff, its scientific advisory committee, and five previous census directors from both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Lower response rates would hurt states with large immigrant communities, causing them to lose seats in Congress and see reductions in crucial federal funding streams tied to census data. Depressing census response rates in already underrepresented communities will allow politicians to draw even more skewed legislative districts and further dilute the economic and political power of immigrant communities.
The lawsuit, New York Immigration Coalition v. United States Department of Commerce, cites constitutional and statutory violations. It was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Defendants are the U.S. Department of Commerce, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and the U.S. Census Bureau.