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GOP attorneys general support citizenship question on census

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, April 3, 2018 file photo, New York Attorney General Attorney General Eric Schneiderman speaks during a news conference in New York to announce a new lawsuit by seventeen states, the District of Columbia and six cities against the U.S. government, saying a plan to add a citizenship query to the census questionnaire is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Mary Altaffer

  • FILE - This March 23, 2018 file photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I., as part of the nation's only test run of the 2020 Census. A Trump administration plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census has prompted legal challenges from many Democratic-led states. But not a single Republican attorney general has sued _ not even from states with large immigrant populations. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith) Michelle R. Smith

  • FILE - In this May 25, 2016 file photo, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announces the state's lawsuit to challenge President Barack Obama's transgender bathroom order during a news conference in Austin, Texas. Many GOP attorneys general have urged President Donald Trump’s 2020 census team to add a citizenship question. "We always are better off having a more accurate count of citizens versus non-citizens. I see no downside in this," says Paxton, vice chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP) Jay Janner

  • FILE - In this Monday, June 26, 2017 file photo, Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler, center, stands with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, left, as he speaks to protesters at a rally in San Antonio outside of the Federal Courthouse to oppose a new Texas "sanctuary cities" bill that aligns with the president's tougher stance on illegal immigration. The census, undertaken every 10 years, uses the number of total residents _ not citizens _ to allot seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to each state. "If we don't count all the people who live in our city _ all the residents we have _ it could mean that our community doesn't get our fair share of moneys or aid,” says Adler. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Eric Gay

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing about about responses to school shootings like the attack in Parkland, Fla., in Washington, after a meeting on student safety with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington. Bondi is among 11 Republican state attorneys general and two governors who signed a March 13, 2018 letter urging the Commerce Department to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, March 7, 2018 file photo, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Jerry Brown, right, discusses remarks made by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in Sacramento, Calif. Becerra, a Democrat, filed a federal lawsuit immediately after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced a citizenship question would be added to the 2020 census. The nation’s most populous state also has the highest number of foreign-born residents, most of whom are naturalized U.S. citizens or hold some other legal status. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Rich Pedroncelli

  • FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2014 file photo, Arizona Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich waves to supporters at the Republican election night party in Phoenix. Minority Democrats in the Arizona Legislature have urged Brnovich to join the lawsuit challenging the citizenship question in the 2020 census. But his spokesman said that won’t happen, just as he refused to sign onto the Republican letter urging the question be included in the census. “We have concerns this issue has been overly politicized,” Brnovich spokesman Ryan Anderson said in a statement. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File) Ross D. Franklin



Associated Press
Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Trump administration plan to ask people if they are U.S. citizens during the 2020 census has prompted a legal uproar from Democratic state attorneys general, who argue it could drive down participation and lead to an inaccurate count.

Yet not a single Republican attorney general has sued — not even from states with large immigrant populations that stand to lose if a census undercount of immigrants affects the allotment of U.S. House seats and federal funding for states.

In fact, many GOP attorneys general had urged Trump’s census team to add a citizenship question.

“We always are better off having a more accurate count of citizens versus non-citizens. I see no downside in this,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, vice chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

The diverging views of top Republican and Democratic state attorneys highlight how even the most basic data collection decisions can quickly split along partisan lines amid the intense debate about immigration policies.

Concerns among immigrants have risen as President Donald Trump’s administration has cracked down on so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, increased arrests by federal immigration officers, called the National Guard to the border with Mexico and sought to limit travel to the U.S. from certain predominantly Muslim countries.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced last month that the 2020 census distributed to every U.S. household will include a citizenship question for the first time since 1950. He said the question was needed in part to help the government enforce the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 law that was intended to protect the political representation of minority groups.

He said it will provide a more accurate tally of voting-eligible residents than is currently available from a smaller sampling survey that includes the citizenship question.

In a letter explaining his decision, Ross said the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that as many as 630,000 additional households might not respond if a citizenship question is included. Yet he acknowledged the administration did not know what the actual consequences might be because it hasn’t tested the change.

The nation’s only dress rehearsal for the 2020 census, currently taking place in Providence, Rhode Island, does not include the citizenship question on the survey forwarded to residents. Nevertheless, Ross determined the benefits of including the question outweigh any concerns.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, filed a federal lawsuit immediately after Ross announced the question would be added.