Pennsylvania joins 17 states in suing Trump to block Census citizenship question
The plaintiffs, now including 18 state attorneys general, say that asking people whether they are citizens would hurt Census participation in states with large immigrant populations. An undercount would result in fewer representatives in Congress. Also at stake are billions of dollars in in federal funding for schools, highways, and hospitals.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined a coalition of 17 other state attorneys general, six city governments, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors in filing a lawsuit Tuesday to block the Trump administration from seeking citizenship information in the 2020 census.
The plaintiffs say that asking people whether they are citizens would hurt census participation in states with large immigrant populations. An undercount would result in fewer representatives in Congress. Also at stake are billions of dollars in federal funding for such essentials as schools, highways, and hospitals.
"At first glance, this move by the Trump administration might seem innocuous, but evidence has shown the addition of a citizenship question will depress turnout — resulting in an inaccurate census count that would hurt Pennsylvania," Shapiro said in a statement. "The United States Constitution requires a full count of all residents, whether they are citizens or not."
Pennsylvania is home to about 870,000 noncitizens, roughly 3.3 percent of the population, he said, and in the Philadelphia metro area non-citizens pay about $6 billion in taxes each year.
The city joined in the lawsuit, according to Shapiro's office.
A furor erupted last week when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he would comply with a Justice Department request to include a citizenship question as a means to identify violations of the Voting Rights Act.
Officials in California immediately filed suit against the Trump administration.
The latest suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Shapiro joined the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, along with the cities of Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Providence, San Francisco, and Seattle, and the Mayors Conference.
"Immigrants — both naturalized citizens and legal residents — are key members of our communities," Shapiro said. "They open new businesses, create job opportunities, and generate tax revenue. All people residing in Pennsylvania, including students, those with work visas, and people with green cards, must be included in our population count in order to ensure Pennsylvania gets our fair share of federal resources."