Healey Says Mass. Will Sue Trump Administration Over Census Change

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In a move denounced by immigrant rights advocates and legal experts as an effort to "undercount communities of color" that could have an enormous impact on the drawing of congressional districts, the Trump administration announced late Monday that the 2020 Census will ask respondents whether or not they are US citizens.

All the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have written the Justice Department questioning its motivation, saying they are "deeply troubled" by the request and the impact it would have.

"The addition of a citizenship question to the census questionnaire is a direct attack on our representative democracy", Holder said in a statement.

"Innocuous at first blush, its effect would be truly insidious", Bacerra wrote. That reaction would further depress response rates, forcing the Census Bureau to spend more money on follow-up and imperiling the accuracy of the count.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the decision to add the question a deception by the Trump administration. He also said it wouldn't overly burden the non-citizens because approximately 70 percent of them already answer the question correctly on the annual American Community Survey, an ongoing survey of USA population that generates data that help determine how more than $675 billion in federal and state funds distributed every year.

If non-citizens in MA don't answer the census honestly, or at all, said Galvin, that will affect the population numbers for the state - which would then affect representation in Congress as well as access to federal funds for transportation or education, among other things, that are linked to population size.

Ross noted the concerns about lower response rates, including from the Census Bureau itself, but said his department's own review "found that limited empirical evidence exists about whether adding a citizenship question would decrease response rates materially".

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It is not entirely clear, however, whether such a question could limit participation in any meaningful way.

"This untimely, unnecessary, and untested citizenship question will disrupt planning at a critical point, undermine years of painstaking preparation, and increase costs significantly, putting a successful, accurate count at risk", she said.

Opponents of the change to the Census worry that the administration's aggressive rhetoric has already made immigrants less willing to respond to government surveys, and that adding a question which asks if they are United States citizens will further depress their participation.

- Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 27, 2018I spent time recently with immigrant groups in California's Central Valley for forthcoming @motherjones story.

That's why California - the state most likely to be messed with thanks to its size and number of undocumented immigrants - immediately filed suit Monday to stop the Trump administration's plan as a violation of the Constitution.

In a joint statement from several Republican senators, Sen. The questions in the census are generally benign, he said, but "asking about citizenship status, especially given the rhetoric about immigrants coming out of Washington, is something that in my view will spook people".

But on the other side of the aisle, members are mobilizing to block the question from appearing. "This is something that has been part of the census for decades and something that the Department of Commerce felt strongly needed to be included again". Last week, Representative Carolyn Maloney (NY) and a handful of other Democrats introduced a bill (H.R. 5359) that would require that any new questions be "researched, studied, and tested" for at least 3 years.

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