Attorney General Becerra files lawsuit over citizenship question on Census

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration March 26 in response to their move to include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Decennial Census for the first time in more than 50 years, saying that such a question could discourage non-citizens from participating.

“Adding a question on citizenship threatens to undermine the integrity of the entire process,” Becerra said this morning during a news conference in Sacramento. “This latest move by the Trump administration is not just a bad idea, it’s against the law.” Data collected without the inclusion of non-citizens could be used to reduce the number of representatives California sends to the U.S. Congress, according to Becerra. He said it could adversely affect federal funding for things like education, highways, mass transit, emergency management, disaster preparation and homeland security.

It could also be used for the purpose of immigration enforcement or even race-based mass detentions.

“Given the way this administration has attacked immigrants, you can see why immigrant families would be afraid to answer the census questionnaire,” Becerra said.

“During World War II, the federal government used census data to identify Japanese American families to send them to internment,” he added.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said that although the Trump administration is calling the citizenship question a measure to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, that claim is “not just laughable, it’s contemptible.”

He described the question as an effort to roll back civil and voting rights as part of the “latest effort to sabotage the underfunded, understaffed and leaderless” census.

“Questioning the citizenship status of every person in America is just the continuation of the president’s blatant agenda to fan the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment in our nation,” Padilla said.

“We know that immigrants contribute to our economy,” Padilla said.

“We know that immigrants serve admirably in our military.”

“California values our immigrants, and in the 2020 census we will ensure that immigrants are counted, not intimidated,” he added.

Padilla and Becerra said they’d been preparing for the March 26 announcement from Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and filed their lawsuit within five hours.

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