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Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census Is A Scare Tactic

April 2, 2018

ANHD is disappointed and outraged by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision, at the request of the Trump administration, to add a question regarding citizenship status to the 2020 Census.

ANHD is disappointed and outraged by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision, at the request of the Trump administration, to add a question regarding citizenship status to the 2020 Census.

For the first time in nearly 70 years, the Trump Administration has elected to add a question about citizenship to the next census under the guise that it is needed in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act.  We know that the addition of this question is designed to disenfranchise and scare non-citizens and vulnerable immigrant communities into under-reporting. The result will be that the crucial, once-in a decade, constitutionally required census will seriously undermine political representation in immigrant communities and communities of color, penalize them in the allocation of resources and federal tax dollars, and threaten civil rights.

Under-reporting will undermine political representation. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every ten years in order to determine representation in Congress based on the number of people in a state. Under-reporting in areas with high concentrations of immigrants will undercut their political power. New York State – along with thirteen other states across the country – are responding to this threat by suing the Administration. ANHD applauds and supports the lawsuit brought by the New York State Attorney General to protect the civil rights and right to political representation of immigrant communities.

ANHD, like many other advocacy organizations, uses Census data to analyze trends in rents, income, and economic opportunity at the community board level, as well as citywide, and to advocate on behalf of our neighborhoods. Underreporting in immigrant communities as a result of fear of detention or deportation will mean less funding and less resources will go to predominantly people of color neighborhoods that already bear the brunt of displacement and economic inequality in New York City.

ANHD places the utmost priority on the safety and protection of the residents in our communities. We understand why, given the current political climate, many immigrant communities are fearful of participating in these types of surveys. ANHD will be signing on to national petitions and campaigns in opposition to the Administration’s decision and we encourage all ANHD member organizations and allies to join us.

Though it is unclear what the future of the Census looks like, we know that the decision to include a question on citizenship was a deliberate attack by the Trump Administration on immigrant communities, communities of color, and any city that dared define itself as a sanctuary. To include this question is to intentionally attack the political power and representation of the growing immigrant communities and communities of color this Administration seeks to repress and subdue. It is a decision that is emblematic of the racism and xenophobia that define the Trump Administration.

In the face of these attacks, ANHD will continue to fight for and with our communities for better and more accurate data, appropriate funding, and accurate representation. Everyone counts, regardless of where they were born or their immigration status.    

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