Despite exclusion of citizenship question from Census, immigrant advocates “fear that the damage has already been done”

indica News Bureau-


Days after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question’s inclusion in the upcoming Census 2020, the Trump administration has dropped the idea, saying it will not add the controversial citizenship question and started the process of printing of Census forms.

But Shikha Bhatnagar, executive director of community-based advocacy group South Asian Network, told indica the Trump administration may have already accomplished its goal in part.

“In short, while we are relieved that they have blocked the citizenship question on the 2020 Census, we fear that the damage has already been done,” Bhatnagar said. “South Asian Americans have traditionally been hard to count community, and it will be even more difficult to encourage them to participate in the upcoming Census due to the fear that the Administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has caused,”

Another community-based civil rights organization, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, in a statement, echoed the sentiment that the previous talk of a citizenship question will lead to reluctance to participate in the count.

“This is an enormous victory for our immigrant communities and our democracy. But fearmongering around the possibility of a citizenship question has already eroded public trust in the census, threatening an undercount in 2020 despite today’s announcement,” the group said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement hailing the exclusion of the citizenship question.

“This is a victory for Californians and for our democracy and a defeat for the Trump administration’s relentless attack on our immigrant communities. California has refused to stand by and let this Administration succeed in its attempt to undermine our census count. Everyone needs to be counted. Our message is clear if you don’t participate, Trump wins,” Newsom said in the statement.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday, June  27 that the Trump administration did not give an adequate reason for adding the question to the 2020 Census and the court sent the issue back to the Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, for further explanation.

“If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s 5-4 majority opinion. He joined with the court’s liberal wing in delivering the ruling.

The Trump administration had planned to ask all recipients a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, the first time since 1950 such a question would have been asked on the Census, claiming the question is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Those who opposed the question’s addition argued that the move would lead to an inaccurate population count since it would cause immigrants and noncitizens to skip the question or the Census altogether.

The data obtained from the Census, which is conducted every 10 years under the Constitution, is used for the allocation of congressional seats, Electoral College votes, and the distribution of billions of federal dollars to states and localities over the following 10 years.

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