Thursday, June 27, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Addition of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census Form

Arguments and research had demonstrated a citizenship question could lead to a large undercount in communities of color, New Mexico could lose funding for vital public programs

New Mexico – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the addition of the Trump administration’s proposed “Citizenship Question” to be asked of all households during the upcoming 2020 Census.

The last time the “Citizenship Question” was asked of all households in the U.S. was in 1950. Since then, the U.S. Census Bureau designated the use of the citizenship question to the American Community Survey (ACS), where only 3.5 million households are asked to answer questions regarding citizenship.

Population counts from the decennial census are an important tool used to determine the distribution of an estimated $880 billion a year in federal tax dollars to states and local communities for Medicare, schools and other public services all vital for the wellbeing and success of families across the country. New Mexico receives $7.8 billion in federal funding out of which $4 billion alone are used to maintain Medicaid.

There is clear evidence that the addition of the citizenship question could lead to a large population undercount, motivated by partisan political reasons as demonstrated by the recent events that exposed the real use for the question is to create an unfair advantage for Republicans during redistricting work in 2021. Simply put, a direct attempt to erase the political voices of communities of color nationwide. 

With N.M. ranking as one of the hardest-to-count states, organizations across N.M. will be carrying massive educational and outreach efforts in the state’s hardest-to-count areas and communities to ensure every family and child is counted during the decennial 2020 census so they can receive their fair share of funding and representation needed to build successful communities.

The following are statements from community organizations regarding the recent decision to allow the “citizenship question” to go on the 2020 census form:

“We applaud the Supreme Court’s decision today to prohibit the inclusion of an untested, unnecessary, ill-timed citizenship question,” said Oriana Sandoval, CEO for the Center for Civic Policy. “Regardless, it will take from each and every one of us to make sure our communities get counted, bringing visibility for our families’ needs and speaking up for our community and our future.”

“As a businesswoman, an accurate and complete census count in our community is critical to determine opportunities to develop business plans for entrepreneurs,” said Kayln Blazak, leader with NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) from Luna County. “We must continue to work to ensure that all communities participate in the 2020 Census to better provide for their needs and increase the well-being of our state.”

“Our Native, immigrant, and transient families already face many barriers when trying to access healthcare, education, and our elected officials. The last thing families, especially immigrant and refugees, needed was a question on the census meant to intimidate people who are just trying to give their loved ones a better life,” said Dr. Melissa Riley, Executive Director at Indigenous Women Rising. “When nearly half of the federal dollars that the state receives go toward Medicaid and an undercount risks our representation, we have no doubt this was politically motivated. Indigenous Women Rising is in total solidarity with New Mexico families who would be negatively impacted by the citizenship question and we will do everything we can to ensure all families are counted and not threatened.” 

“This  was a clear attempt by the Trump administration to silence and suppress our immigrant communities as well as working class people of color,” said Rosalinda Dorado, community organizer for El CENTRO de Igualdad y Derechos.“The addition of this question would have endangered accurate political representation, of these already underfunded and underrepresented communities, but would have also further driven undocumented immigrants into the shadows. We refuse to be silenced! We now have another opportunity to show our power and fight for fair representation as well as critical infrastructure that our communities rely on everyday to succeed in our state.”

“The Asian & Pacific Islander population is the fastest growing population in the US. However, we are still plagued by the model minority myth and have been muted or invisibilized from US history – the historical undercount of our API communities is no exception,” said Anni Leming, Civic Engagement Coordinator, New Mexico Asian Family Center. “Furthermore, a significant share of our API community members are immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers or have parents who are. We were deeply concerned about the possible addition of the citizenship question, and while such racially charged tactics are intended to discourage our immigrant community members from participation in the Census 2020, we will fight to accurately count all of our families in New Mexico to ensure services and resources are equitably allocated.”

“Instilling fear in our immigrant, queer, trans, and communities of color to deprive them of vital resources and their voice was appalling attempt by Trump and his administration. It’s disgusting to see a presidential administration so determined to erase our communities,” said  Felipe  Rodriguez, New Mexico Dream Team’s Campaign Manager. “We are here to stay and this 2020 Census, we must work diligently to make sure that all those whom Trump looked to eliminate from our society are counted and continue to have a voice to protect their livelihoods, and well being.”

The attempt to add a citizenship question on the census is yet another example of the Trump administration’s efforts to silence and deprive our marginalized populations,” says Adrian Carver, Executive Director, Equality New Mexico. “Every decade the census undercounts hundreds of thousands of marginalized people and overcounts privileged populations which reinforces systems of power and oppression. LGBTQ+ people exist in all the populations of people who are undercounted and underserved — that’s why it’s so important for our community to ensure we are accurately counted and granted fair resources and government representation for our families.”