The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined with several immigrant groups on Wednesday to mount the sixth legal challenge against the Trump administration's decision to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census.
The ACLU, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the New York Civil Liberties Union and the law firm Arnold & Porter said in a lawsuit filed in the federal district court in Manhattan that the question is essentially a "door-to-door government inquiry" into the citizenship status of every member of every household in the nation. They also said it would sow more fear among immigrant communities, ultimately suppressing census participation.
The lawsuit against the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce was brought on behalf of the immigrants’ rights groups Casa de Maryland, the ADC, the ADC Research Institute, the New York Immigration Coalition, and Make the Road New York. It argues the census question is unconstitutional and is arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
“President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE is adding the citizenship question into his toxic stew of racist rants and draconian policies in order to stoke fear, undercount, and strip political power from immigrant communities,” Sarah Brannon, managing attorney of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.
“The inclusion of the citizenship question will lead to a decline in the census response rate,” ADC President Samer Khalaf said in a statement. “The resulting impact will have a negative effect on the redistricting process, and the access of minority communities to desperately needed government services and funding.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossMomentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks Census memo notes 'unprecedented' Trump administration meddling: report Holding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role MORE agreed in March to grant a request from the Department of Justice to add the question to the census form, sparking outrage from Democrats and immigrant advocates.
The Justice Department has said it needs the citizenship data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but groups doubt the truthfulness of that justification, given the department's crackdown on illegal immigration under Trump.
The groups are asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to permanently block the administration from adding the question to the decennial census.
Five other lawsuits have been filed in district courts in Maryland, New York and California.