Democratic governors: Exclusion of census citizenship question doesn't mean an end to 'confusion or anxiety'

Democratic governors: Exclusion of census citizenship question doesn't mean an end to 'confusion or anxiety'
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Three Democratic governors said Thursday that the apparent end of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE's efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census does little to end any possible "confusion or anxiety" among local communities about taking part in the count.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia legislature votes to limit payday loans Trump heads to heart of resistance in California Anti-vaccine activists pour red liquid onto CA Senate floor: report MORE and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate 5 takeaways from fiery Democratic debate Left off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa MORE, a 2020 presidential candidate, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times that they would work with local communities, indigenous groups and homeless populations in order to ensure that the 2020 census will be as accurate as possible.

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"We know that immigrant families, terrorized by the president’s policies, are afraid to open their doors because being seen can put them in danger," the western state governors wrote.

The op-ed followed after reports that Trump planned to drop his administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. He announced his decision Thursday afternoon to reverse course on those efforts, saying that he would instead issue an executive order requiring federal agencies to provide the Commerce Department information on citizens and noncitizens in the United States.

"But just because the citizenship question will not be included doesn’t mean an end to the confusion or anxiety. We will not sit idly by, and we are committed to reassuring our communities that they can feel secure in taking part in the census and that their participation matters," the governors wrote.

Critics of Trump's efforts argued before the announcement Thursday that a question to determine a resident's legal status in the U.S. would discourage immigrants, even those in the U.S. legally, from participating in the count due to fear of deportation or other legal action from federal authorities.

Accurate counts of state populations are critical for determining funding levels for some federal programs, as well as for determining congressional districts.

"Our government should not be intentionally inciting fear. But we can’t let these tactics break down the barriers of the democratic institutions we hold sacred. If people do not take part in the census, the president wins," they continued, adding: "Regardless of what happens at the federal level, we will make sure the people in our states are counted."

California in particular, the op-ed notes, is investing more that $180 million in its efforts to ensure an accurate census. Ten counties in the state are considered the hardest to count accurately in the country, according to the governors, due to large populations of Americans who speak languages other than English, as well as a considerable homeless population in Los Angeles and other areas.

Oregon, the governors wrote, is allocating $7.5 million to convene multilingual community forums to share information about the census and listen to people’s concerns. The state is also setting up census assistance centers.

Washington, according to the op-ed, is allocating grants to community-based organizations to serve as support systems for "hard-to-count populations." The state has also bolstered laws concerning the sharing of data with federal and immigration enforcement authorities.

"A significant undercount would deprive our communities of critical resources and political representation. Refusing to take part will only advance the goals of anti-immigrant hard-liners," they wrote. "There is power in numbers, whether it is the number of people living in our states or the number of states like us that band together."