SD Leaders Praise SCOTUS Decision To Block Citizenship Question On Census
San Diego elected officials and immigration-rights activists Thursday hailed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling blocking a citizenship question from the 2020 Census.
"While we've won the #SCOTUS case, our fight continues," Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, wrote in a Twitter post. "It is up to us to ensure that EVERYONE responds to #Census2020 and immigrants and Latinos are included in our democracy."
In a ruling by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was joined by the court's liberals, the court said the Trump administration did not adequately explain its reason for adding the question. The ruling included a direct rebuke to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who last year decided to add a citizenship question to all forms for the first time since 1950.
"Altogether, the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the secretary gave for his decision," Roberts said.
The court sent the matter back to a lower court for review.
In January, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York blocked the citizenship question and issued a 277-page opinion describing how Ross had failed to follow the advice of census experts or explain his reasons for making a change that could lead to a severe undercount. Judges in San Francisco and Maryland handed down similar rulings.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the administration's appeal in the case of Department of Commerce vs. New York on a fast-track basis because the government said it needed to begin printing census forms this summer.
On Twitter, Trump blasted the ruling.
"Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed country, cannot ask a basic question of citizenship in a very expensive, detailed and important census, in this case for 2020," he wrote. "I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter. Can anyone really believe that as a great country we are not able to ask whether or not someone is a citizen. Only in America!"
Rep. Mike Levin, D-Oceanside, said the decision is "a win for all Americans who believe in fair and accurate representation."
"Now we need to make sure everyone participates in the census," Levin wrote in a Twitter post.
The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium called the ruling "critical for immigrant communities in our region" and argued that the question would have influenced the shape of congressional districts and the allocation of federal resources.
"The citizenship question was clearly designed to intimidate and stoke fear in our communities, which would prevent our communities from being fairly counted, and deny us access to resources we need," said SDIRC Chair Lillian Serrano. "Now that the question has been removed, we can focus on what really matters: making sure all people in our communities are fairly counted."
Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, described the question as a fear- mongering attempt to silence millions of people in vulnerable communities around the country.
However, Atkins expressed disappointment that the administration received a window to appeal the case, suggesting the court might have approved the question's placement on the census if the administration's reasoning had been better.
"In California, we will continue to work to secure adequate funding to ensure a complete count, and we are working with community advocates to make sure hard-to-reach communities are participating and hope that our courts see what we all see: this administration will say and do anything to distort an accurate and complete count," Atkins said.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, the chair of the state's Latino Legislative Caucus, asserted that immigrant communities must be counted.
"This is good, for today," Gonzalez said in a Twitter post. "The evidence is clear, the Trump administration is trying to add the citizenship question to the #Census2020 to intimidate our immigrant communities. No matter how this ends, in the end, we will not be intimidated."