Citizenship and the census: What’s at stake in Supreme Court case

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The census is conducted to help determine federal funding and the number of House districts in each state.

South Central Pennsylvania is one of the few parts of the state that is growing at anything close to national rates.

Mayor Tom Barrett says if the Trump administration gets its way, it'll be tougher to get an accurate count when the census begins next year.

"He concluded that the benefits outweighed the costs", Francisco said.

Ross has maintained that the information is important for several reasons, including enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Immigration scholar and author Daniel Horowitz points to Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story's prophetic admonition: "If aliens might be admitted indiscriminately to enjoy all the rights of citizens at the will of a single state, the Union might itself be endangered by an influx of foreigners, hostile to its institutions, ignorant of its powers, and incapable of a due estimate of its privileges". On top of that, Secretary Ross acted without observing procedures required by law, including a statute requiring that he notify Congress of the subjects planned for any census at least three years in advance.

"The question is, why is asking a question better when you know that asking a question is going to result in lots of non-responses and in lots of false reporting?" As now worded in the Constitution, the census counts "all persons", regardless of citizenship status. In a now-infamous March 2018 memorandum, Mr. Ross said he considered adding the citizenship question after the Justice Department asked for it.

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But dozens of of states, cities and other groups - led by California and NY - have challenged the proposal, arguing that the question could result in a drop in response rates and therefore an undercount of immigrant communities because those groups may be anxious about how their information will be used in the future. Justice Elena Kagan called it "shopping for a need". Instead, she said, the Census Bureau was taking a risk with a vital function.

But the conservative justices were skeptical about why they should intervene in an issue Congress seems to have entrusted with the executive branch.

"The case is the court's first direct look at an administration initiative since the justices upheld President Donald Trump's travel ban a year ago".

The government's lawyer, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, was less than two sentences into his argument when Justice Sotomayor pounced for the first time, keeping up a steady stream of questions suggesting Mr. Trump and his team invented reasons to ask about citizenship, and that Hispanics in particular will refuse to take part, souring the all-important survey.

Reintroducing the question, which hasn't been used since 1950, has pitted the Trump administration against civil rights groups, which claim that the information will target immigrants. There could socioeconomic differences and a language barrier that could factor into them not turning in a census, Alito said. Critics say adding the question would discourage many immigrants from being counted.

The U.S. Supreme Court must come to a decision on the question by June.

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Ross himself has reportedly pushed for a citizenship question, even though Census Bureau officials have advised against it-they say inquiries about residency or legal status, if added to the short-form questionnaire, could cause a 5 percent drop in responses. They also guide how hundreds of billions of federal tax dollars are distributed to local communities. Moreover, our constitutionally mandated decennial count has become a full-employment program for ideologically driven liberal interest groups cashing in on the census-gathering process and reshaping the electoral landscape.

"T$3 heir asserted injuries are not fairly traceable to the Secretary's decision to reinstate the citizenship question", Francisco told the court.

Alex Vazquez, a member of CASA, an organisation advocating for Latino and immigrants in Maryland, said the biggest fear among immigrants is that the Trump administration will use their information inappropriately.

Given the Trump administration's harsh roundups, detentions, and deportations of immigrants, why would anyone want to risk the thinly veiled threat that question poses?

A decision in the case, Department of Commerce v.

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