Judge Strikes Down 2020 Census Citizenship Question

The U.S. Census is a critical tool for lawmakers and leaders in America. Held every 10 years, the census counts every man, woman, and child living within the country. Mandated by the Constitution itself, the census provides a regular opportunity to assess the American population and understand how it is changing. The Constitution is very clear: every resident of the U.S. should be counted, no matter their citizenship or immigration status.

Results from the census help the government allocate seats in Congress as well as federal funds and other support for states and communities. Any alteration of the census can have effects that ripple across the U.S.  Thus, such changes or planned updates should undergo heavy review and consideration before being instated. For more general information about the U.S. census, you can access the Census Bureau’s website.

This article discusses the recent news that a federal judge in NY ordered the Trump administration to remove its planned 2020 census question about citizenship. This is a developing story, and additional updates may be posted when available. For any questions about the census, citizenship, or any immigration concern, contact Davis & Associates for a free initial consultation with an expert immigration attorney.

Citizenship Question Causes Concern

Recently, the Trump administration announced that it would add a controversial question to the next census, scheduled for 2020. The question, regarding citizenship, would say, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” Obviously, adding such a question sparked fear in many American immigrant communities. Could – or would – such a question be utilized to identify and target undocumented immigrants?

The question led to lawsuits in New York (as well as other states, including Texas). The NY lawsuits suggested that the Trump administration – with the U.S. Census Bureau lead by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross – was attempting to target immigrant communities, as well as people of color, with this new citizenship question. While the presiding judge did not necessarily agree with the plaintiffs’ arguments, he did agree that the Trump administration had issued an arbitrary change to the census without appropriate consideration and/or justification. This is especially important for a question that could lead to lowered census participation and thus an incorrect head count.

Judge Rules That Trump Administration Must Remove Citizenship Question

Jesse Furman, a U.S. federal district judge, released his 277-paged ruling last week regarding the 2020 census case. In it, he ordered the Trump administration to remove the citizenship question from its plans for the 2020 census. According to Furman, Ross’s decision to include the citizenship question was “unlawful” in part because it violates the Administrative Procedure Act. U.S. law guides administrators and lawmakers to “use existing government records… as much as possible” regarding citizenship.[1]

Additionally, Furman stated that Ross’s decision itself violated the law because the Secretary “announced his decision in a manner that concealed its true basis rather than explaining it.” In short, the judge felt that Ross, and the Trump administration, had failed to provide adequate justification for its decision. Arbitrary decisions are dangerous.

If the Trump administration can produce adequate evidence that its decision was based in sound judgment, the judge may consider allowing the question to proceed. But for the time being, the question is effectively removed from the 2020 census. This is a victory for immigrant communities across America despite the fact that the Trump administration is appealing Furman’s ruling.

Supreme Court May Decide

There is a possibility that the Supreme Court will weigh in on the 2020 census issue, especially since the Trump administration has appealed the ruling. It is unclear when or if that will happen, though, and the Supreme Court has not made any announcements regarding the case or appeal. Currently, Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to testify regarding the 2020 census citizenship question at a House Oversight Hearing in March 2019. It’s likely more news will follow after that event.

Rest assured, Davis & Associates continues to follow all government reforms, laws, and litigation regarding immigration. We stay informed so you don’t have to worry. We will post any updates to this case on our blog if and when available.

Contact Expert Houston Immigration Attorneys

If you are concerned about your immigration or citizenship status, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified and compassionate attorney. Immigration attorneys make life – and legal proceedings – much easier for clients. This means that immigration attorneys not only provide an opportunity to continue living in the U.S., but they also allow you to live better while you’re waiting for hearings and court decisions. Employing appropriate legal counsel even heightens your chances for success in the courtroom.

At Davis & Associates, we skillfully serve clients in Houston and throughout Texas. Our attorneys are passionate and experienced – your case is in good hands. Sit down with us during a free initial consultation. You’ll discuss your unique situation, the possibilities you face, and how to proceed. We’re eager to help – contact us today!

Sources Cited

[1] Lo Wang, H. (2019, January 15). Judges Orders Trump Administration to Remove the 2020 Census Citizenship Question. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org

Categories