‘The census is supposed to count everyone in the country. Period. It is about facts, not partisanship.’
SAN FRANCISCO (July 2, 2019) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed today that the decision has been made to print the 2020 census questionnaire without a citizenship question. San Francisco was a founding member of the coalition that brought the case in New York:
“This is a triumph for all Americans. This should bring an end to the Trump administration’s treacherous attempt to skew the census for political benefit. The law is clear. The census is supposed to count everyone in the country. Period. It is about facts, not partisanship. Trying to add the question was a blatant attempt to put a thumb on the electoral scale to favor whites and Republicans. And it was an attempt to deprive millions of people of a voice. It was yet another brazen attack on immigrants, their families, their neighbors and their allies. The Trump administration tried to erase millions of people, many of them citizens or legal U.S. residents. They tried to say that in the eyes of their government, these Americans didn’t exist. Apparently when the administration got caught with a contrived justification, they couldn’t come up with a legitimate reason to add the question. What has stopped the Trump administration so far is the truth — and the law.”
A coalition led by the State of New York that included San Francisco, five other cities, 17 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Conference of Mayors took the Trump administration to court on April 3, 2018 to prevent the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. census that would undermine the census’ accuracy. Later, four other cities, four counties and another state joined the coalition. A number of nonprofits also sued the Trump administration over the same issue.
Since at least 1980, the Census Bureau, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, has taken the position that inquiries about citizenship on the census would jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count, including undercounting legal immigrants in the United States.
The census is used to allocate seats in the House of Representatives, determine the number of electors to the Electoral College, draw state and local electoral districts, and distribute hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grant funds to states, local governments and other grantees. Federal researchers found that in fiscal year 2015 more than 130 programs used Census Bureau data to distribute more than $675 billion in funds for things like Medicaid, transportation projects, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the National School Lunch Program.
On Jan. 15, 2019, a federal judge in New York ruled against the Trump administration’s decision, blocking them from adding the citizenship question. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on April 23, 2019.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the cities of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Providence, Philadelphia, Seattle, Phoenix, Central Falls, Columbus and Pittsburgh; counties of Cameron, El Paso, Hidalgo and Monterey; the states of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington; the District of Columbia; and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The case is: State of New York et al. v. U.S. Department of Commerce et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York case No. 1:18-cv-02921, filed April 3, 2018. Additional documentation from the case is available on the City Attorney’s website at: sfcityattorney.org.