Civil Rights Groups Seek Reconsideration of Census Citizenship Question Discrimination Ruling

Advancing Justice | AAJC and MALDEF seek reconsideration of census citizenship question discrimination ruling
For Immediate Release
Contact
Mary Tablante 202-296-2300, ext. 0114 mtablante@advancingjustice-aajc.org
Michelle Boykins 202-296-2300, ext. 0144 mboykins@advancingjustice-aajc.org
Sandra Hernandez (213) 629-2512 x. 129 shernandez@maldef.org

(GREENBELT, MD) – Newly discovered evidence contradicts the Trump administration’s claims that it added a citizenship question to the 2020 Census simply to enforce the federal Voting Rights Act, and confirms that the purpose was to deprive Latinos of constitutionally protected political representation. 

Court documents filed Friday show that the current Chief of Staff to the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau was in direct contact with a Republican redistricting strategist in 2015, concerning issues related to the citizenship question.  

The documents submitted to U.S. District Court Judge George J. Hazel on Friday reveal the first evidence of direct contact between Thomas B. Hofeller, a GOP strategist, and Christa Jones, a Census Bureau official, who was the main intermediary between the Census Bureau and Secretary Ross when the decision was issued in March of 2018. 

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (Advancing Justice | AAJC) submitted the new evidence and on Tuesday, June 18, will ask Hazel to reconsider whether the administration conspired with others to intentionally discriminate against Latinos and non-citizens.  

"This new evidence explicitly reveals that the citizenship question was motivated by a desire to minimize representation of Latinos and disadvantage immigrants, non-citizens, and communities of color,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. "The census must be free from discrimination so that all communities have the access and resources they need to thrive."

Late last month The New York Times revealed that Hofeller, now deceased, worked with the administration to include a citizenship question as a way to unlawfully advantage “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”  

MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC sued the Trump administration in May 2018 on behalf Latino and Asian American individuals, Native Americans, social service non-profits, state legislative associations, civil rights groups, voting rights organizations, and community partnerships that would be forced to divert resources to combat a potential severe undercount in their respective communities.  

On April 5, 2019, Hazel ruled that the addition of the citizenship question violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Enumeration Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court, however, fell short of granting MALDEF’s and Advancing Justice | AAJC’s claim that the administration’s intention in adding the question was to discriminate against non-citizens and communities of color in the decennial Census, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and that members of the administration conspired to deprive racial minorities of their constitutional right to equal representation. 

Census data are crucial to allocating seats in Congress, drawing accurate election districts and ensuring equitable distribution of federal funds for a wide range of vital programs. 

MALDEF and Advancing Justice | AAJC filed an appeal on April 14 in the U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit challenging Judge Hazel’s ruling on the question of whether the motive for adding the citizenship question was unconstitutionally discriminatory. That appeal is moving forward.  

Read the brief HERE 

Read a Census Timeline HERE