The Supreme Court Sees through the Trump Administration’s Racist Census Question - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

The Supreme Court Sees through the Trump Administration’s Racist Census Question

In a victory for immigrants and communities of color, a citizenship question will not be added to the 2020 Census.

In a victory for immigrants and communities of color, a citizenship question will not be added to the 2020 Census. The Supreme Court decided yesterday that the Trump administration’s reason for adding a citizenship question to the Census was “contrived” – and that the administration must provide a better explanation before any such question can be added.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a national Census every 10 years; the count is meant to provide a variety of information about the state of the population. Data from the census provides information for critically important decisions – everything from the number of representatives each state gets in Congress to where to build new roads and schools.

But given the aggressive actions of the Trump administration against noncitizens and immigrants, the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would likely result in a dramatic undercount of the overall population – as many as 9 million people might not be counted. Put another way, more people than live in the state of New Jersey might be missed by the Census. Those going uncounted would be noncitizens, immigrants, and people with noncitizens in their families. The towns, cities, and states where these communities live would be underfunded and underrepresented. Their voices would be diminished not just in 2020, but for the next 10 years.

Despite these predicted effects, the Trump administration maintained that the reason it wanted to add a citizenship question was to enforce protections for communities of color under the Voting Rights Act (VRA) – a laughable proposition, given that the Trump Administration has brought zero cases under the VRA since inauguration. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote in a March 2018 memo that enforcing the VRA was the reason for adding the question to the Census. He also said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had asked Commerce to do so.

During litigation, however, it became clear that the Secretary had lied. It was his own staff who reached out to DOJ originally, asking DOJ to request Commerce to add a question on citizenship so that Commerce would have a reason to do so. In fact, it emerged that Secretary Ross looked into adding a citizenship question barely a week after being confirmed. And in a dramatic, movie-worthy twist, files were discovered on a deceased Republican strategist’s computer that showed that adding a citizenship question was promoted explicitly because it would dilute the political power of the Latinx community.

Clearly, the Trump Administration was not trying to enforce the VRA. And that’s basically what the Supreme Court’s opinion said – and why the case was sent back to the agency in order to better describe their reasoning.

Unfortunately, this means that the Supreme Court’s decision is only temporary. If the agency is somehow able to return with a different, non-VRA explanation for why they want to add the question (and the explanation is backed up by past emails, files, and documents), then Chief Justice Roberts will likely approve the question.

It’s worth pausing on this: the five conservative members of the Court see nothing wrong with adding the citizenship question, despite its predicted impact on communities of color. That is why, this decision aside, the Court will not be a partner in protecting the rights of immigrants and noncitizens. We cannot rely on the courts – we must continue to organize and build power.

Happily, this decision was still a win. It is unlikely that the 2020 Census will contain the citizenship question, as the Trump Administration repeatedly emphasized the need for the Census Bureau to start printing forms by the end of June. It will be very challenging for Commerce to come up with a new rationale in time to meet that deadline.

The Supreme Court’s decision is great news for immigrant families and communities of color. But the decision was a complicated one – and again, only temporary. That means your advocacy and amplification of this issue is still needed.

Anna Applebaum is a legal intern with Advancement Project National. She is a J.D. candidate at NYU Law.


¡Si Se Puede! How Cesar Chavez Inspires Us to Challenge COVID-19 Systemic Inequality

By Shuya Ohno, Managing Director of Campaign Strategy Phoenix, AZ – Dolores Huerta at the protest vigil in front of the AZ State Capital in 2010 Today, we commemorate Cesar Chavez Day under a heavy cloud of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. Here in New York City where I live, make-shift hospital tents are being set up in Central Park. Nurses tending to victims of the coronavirus are dying. Covid-19 positive pregnant women are being intubated following emergency deliveries. The invisible virus has infected the very character that I’ve always loved about this diverse city. Whether it’s complaining about the…

Read More
Citing the Global Health Pandemic, Civil Rights Organizations Urge State Officials to Release Incarcerated People

Media Contacts: Joshua Garner, 240-326-3874, [email protected] Pennsylvania Immigrant Rights Organizations and Advancement Project National Office Urge Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Agencies to Release People From Incarceration, End Flow Of New People Into Jail, Prison, and Immigration Detention Amid COVID-19 Crisis   Pennsylvania – In a letter sent to state officials Tuesday, Pennsylvania based immigrant rights organizations, Juntos, Casa San Jose, VietLead, Asian Americans United and Advancement Project National Office are calling on the Pennsylvania Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Enforcement & Removal Operations (ICE ERO), the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), sheriff’s offices, and police departments across Pennsylvania to…

Read More
Puente Human Rights Movement and Advancement Project National Office Call On Arizona Governor, State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies to Release All People From Incarceration, End Flow Of New People Into Jail, Prison, and Immigration Detention Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Citing the global health pandemic, civil rights organization urge state officials to release incarcerated people PHOENIX, AZ–In a letter sent to state officials March 19, Puente Human Rights Movement and Advancement Project National Office are calling on Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona Immigration & Customs Enforcement & Removal Operations (ICE ERO), the Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC), and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to protect the lives of vulnerable community members by immediately releasing all people from incarceration and ending the flow of new people into jail, prison, and immigration detention systems amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The letter, which was…

Read More
Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Denounce Discrimination Against Asian Americans and Urge Unity in Responding to Coronavirus Pandemic

Contact: Elana Needle / [email protected] / 201-248-9724   WASHINGTON—The nation’s leading civil rights and racial justice organizations issued a joint urgent call to action against racism and discrimination targeting Asian Americans related to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). “As our nation grapples with the coronavirus, we are deeply concerned that recent incidents of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans threaten our collective public safety. In recent weeks, Asian Americans have been subjected to violent attacks, discrimination against their businesses and xenophobic portrayal by the media and our elected leaders. We are often reminded of the xenophobic history of our nation—from…

Read More
Asian American and Pacific Islander Leaders and Over 260 Civil Rights Organizations Call on Congress to Denounce Anti-Asian Racism around COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: [email protected] Washington, DC— As cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continue to rise in the U.S., so too do incidents of anti-Asian racism towards Asian American families and businesses. As of March 10, there have been more than 110,000 cases worldwide, 1000 of which are in the U.S. NCAPA, along with over 260 organizations, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership to call for unity and publicly denounce the racist and xenophobic attacks on Asian Americans. A link to the letter can be found here: The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued the following statement: “While…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Condemns Supreme Court Clearing Trump Administration To Implement New Rule Impacting Immigrants of Color, Working Class Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court has endorsed the Trump Administration’s continuous assault on immigrants by Monday’s decision to let the Administration implement the ‘public charge’ rule. “Throughout his campaign and his presidency, Trump has sought to dehumanize immigrants and people of color – in essence, shrinking the definition of who is seen as ‘a person,” said Losmin Jimenez, Project Director and Senior Attorney, Immigrant Justice at Advancement Project National Office. “Today’s public charge shift is not a minor bureaucratic change. It is an attempt to perpetuate a malicious narrative about people of color. A president who calls people animals,…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Applauds Proposed Legislation Decriminalizing Immigration

WASHINGTON, DC – Advancement Project National Office welcomes the introduction of the New Way Forward Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The New Way Forward is a welcome first step towards undoing some of the harms of the 1996 immigration laws that created mandatory detention, facilitated local law enforcement with immigration enforcement, criminalized migration (illegal entry and illegal re-entry federal prosecutions), and eliminated the ability of immigration judges to consider multiple mitigating factors and equities in immigration court. “Communities of color are disproportionately impacted when local law enforcement engages in racial profiling. Policies like “stop and frisk,” broken windows…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Releases Major Report Exposing Inhumane Conditions Inside an ICE Detention, Calls to End Immigrant Detention

CONTACT Joshua Garner [email protected] 202-728-9557 240-326-3874 WASHINGTON, DC – Advancement Project National Office in partnership with Puente Human Rights Movement are calling for an end to immigrant detention and mass incarceration as they launch the release of  “Arizona’s Carceral Crisis: The Human Cost of Being Confined,” a report that exposes the extreme conditions inside an ICE detention facility. The qualitative report highlights the harmful ways that immigrants of color are criminalized and dehumanized in an ICE detention center in Arizona, and how these harmful practices feed the mass incarceration crisis across America. This…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office and Human Rights Organization Release Report Detailing Inhumane Conditions of ICE Detention Facilities, Call For End of Immigrant Detention

Civil Rights Organizations to Release New Report: “The Carceral State of Arizona: The Human Cost of Being Confined,” Exposing Inhumane Conditions Inside an ICE Detention Facility During 11/21 Event WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advancement Project National Office and Puente Human Rights Movement will host an event calling for the closure of ICE detention facilities throughout the U.S. during a report launch Thursday, Nov. 21 at The Loft in Washington, D.C. During the ceremony, the organizations will release, “The Carceral State of Arizona: The Human Cost of Being Confined,” detailing the inhumane conditions inside an ICE detention facility outside of Phoenix,…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Issues Statement on Beginning of Dreamers Supreme Court Hearing

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) case. The Supreme Court will determine whether the Trump Administration violated the due process when it abruptly cancelled the DACA program on September 5, 2017. The Supreme Court will also hear arguments whether a court has the power to review the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to end DACA. “We know that when Trump enlisted leaders from nativist organizations that believe in eugenics to work at DHS, that it was a part of the White Supremacist wish list that Trump wanted to carry out across the entire federal government,” said Losmin Jiménez Project Director and Senior Attorney for the Immigrant…

Read More