Two Florida-based immigrants’ rights groups have joined a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census. In an amended complaint filed in federal court in New York, the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and the Family Action Network Movement (FANM) were added as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last month charging that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ order intentionally discriminates against immigrant communities of color and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
“Nearly one in five people living in Florida is an immigrant, and with the administration adding a citizenship question at a time that the president is attacking immigrant communities, Floridians of all backgrounds are right to be concerned that the citizenship question will reduce their political power,” stated American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida legal director Nancy Abudu. “We deserve a census that counts everyone fairly.”
“Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census is harmful, not just to immigrant visibility, but to municipalities that stand to lose millions of dollars in federal appropriations.”
María Rodríguez, FLIC
There has not been a citizenship question on the U.S. decennial census form sent to every U.S. resident 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.
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.
“Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census is harmful, not just to immigrant visibility, but to municipalities that stand to lose millions of dollars in federal appropriations,” stated FLIC Executive Director María Rodríguez. “We will not let the political voice of immigrants be undermined by this latest attack. They benefit from our labor, they shouldn’t repress our count.”
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 on June 6.
Marleine Bastiene, Executive Director of FANM, stated: “Even without a citizenship question, Haitian-American families in the communities we serve are already underrepresented in the census. Given this administration’s hostile and discriminatory actions and attitudes toward immigrants of color – and especially toward Haitians – changing the census in a way that discourages participation seems like a deliberate attempt to further disenfranchise our communities and stifle our voices.”
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