At least 12 US states have decided to sue the Donald Trump administration after a question about individual's citizenship status was added to the 2020 Census questionnaire. The state officials say the question violates the Constitution and will exclude many communities from the process, and defeat the overall purpose of the census.
The United States census which is conducted every decade plays a crucial role in studies, reports done in U.S. states that in turn also impact state, national-level policy-making decisions.
Per the U.S. Constitution, every person residing in the country should be counted in the decennial census, irrespective of whether they are U.S. citizens or not, the results of which are used to redraw political boundaries ranging from school boards to House seats, allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants and subsidies to where they are needed most. Census data provides the baseline for planning decisions made by corporations and governments alike.
"The census is supposed to count everyone," said Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts. "This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal, which will result in an undercount of the population and threaten federal funding for our state and cities."
According to the New York Times, the New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, has said he was leading a multistate lawsuit to stop the move, and officials in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington will be joining him and follow his suit.
The State of California also filed a separate lawsuit late Monday night.
This isn't the first time the Census Bureau has come under fire. In January, the bureau rejected a request to have "Middle Eastern or North African" added to the "race" category, after the major Arab-American organizations along with researchers within the bureau recommended the U.S. agency do so.
"Our communities, like all others, rely on representation through legislative redistricting, civil rights laws, and education and health statistics. A continued undercount will cause harm," Maya Berry, Executive Director of the Arab American Institute, who has been campaigning to add the category since the 1990s, told Deutsche Welle.