California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is threatening to sue the Trump administration if it adds a question about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau questionnaire. Becerra is co-leading a coalition of 19 attorneys general that have voiced strong opposition to the inclusion of a question determining a respondent’s citizenship status.
“The California Department of Justice is putting President Trump on notice: if a citizenship question is added to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau questionnaire, we are prepared to take any and all necessary legal action to protect a full and accurate Census,” Becerra wrote.
The group contends that including a question about citizenship would violate the U.S. Constitution’s requirements that all persons in each state be counted. They say including such a question would affect response rates, especially in immigrant and noncitizen communities. The group also said that federal funding might be affected adversely if states’ populations were underrepresented.
“The states would be profoundly harmed by an inaccurate 2020 Census, since it could result in an incorrect calculation of the number of Representatives to which each state is entitled, in violation of the Census Clause of the Constitution, and jeopardize critical federal funding that states depend on,” they wrote.
States whose officials have signed on to the letter include New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi and New Jersey. The group directed their letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Department of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.