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PoliticsFight Over Census Documents Centers on Motive for a Citizenship Question

04:00  13 june  2019
04:00  13 june  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

DOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist's role in census citizenship question

DOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist's role in census citizenship question The Department of Justice on Monday sought to refute new allegations that a GOP redistricting operative played a significant role in getting a citizenship question on the 2020 census, calling the claims false and without merit. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); In a new court filing, DOJ lawyers offered a biting rebuke to the allegations made against Trump administration officials of attempting to obscure the role of the late GOP operative Thomas Hofeller in adding the citizenship question.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.

The citizenship question has not been asked of respondents since 1950, and then was only asked of the subgroup that was randomly assigned the “long-form” Experts estimate that 6.5 million people would not be counted in the 2020 census if the question were to be included, and that several states

Fight Over Census Documents Centers on Motive for a Citizenship Question© Luke Sharrett for The New York Times Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The fight between Congress and President Trump over census documents revolves around one crucial issue: discerning the true motive of the Trump administration when it made a historic decision to ask all residents in the country if they were an American citizen.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But a growing body of evidence — unearthed in lawsuits seeking to block the question — suggests that the administration added the question to entrench Republicans in power.

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A White Man’s Republic, If They Can Keep It As it weighs a census case, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether America is a nation for all its citizens.

How The Fight Over The Census Citizenship Question Could Rage On. Demonstrators rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in April to protest the Trump administration's plan to add a citizenship question to forms for the 2020 census .

Newly released government documents show "efforts of senior Commerce officials to monitor and potentially interfere in Census Bureau" decisions, according to the groups who successfully sued the Trump administration over the citizenship question .

Federal judges in three lawsuits have concluded that the Trump administration’s rationale for adding the question was contrived.

Judge Jesse M. Furman of the United States District Court in Manhattan, for instance, criticized Mr. Ross and his aides for giving false or misleading statements under oath as they struggled to explain their rationale.

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The Commerce Department’s handling of the question, Judge Furman wrote in his decision, made it clear “that the goal of Secretary Ross and his aides was to launder their request through another agency — that is, to obtain cover for a decision they had already made.” In 54 years of Voting Rights Act enforcement, he noted, the Justice Department had “never before claimed that it had been hampered in any way” by a lack of detailed information on citizenship.

Cummings to move forward with contempt votes for Barr, Ross over census question

Cummings to move forward with contempt votes for Barr, Ross over census question The House Oversight chairman indicated that he would move forward with votes for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, after they missed a Thursday deadline.

There is NO citizenship question on this year’s census . By the administration’s own estimate, the question Adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census will significantly reduce participation by immigrant Opposition Over Time. The push to ask about citizenship on the census is not new.

Census Bureau officials warned about a "very costly" citizenship question . "The Kobach email is one out of over 500 pages of stakeholder records produced in the administrative record," the Later in his email, Kobach proposed wording for a census citizenship question that would ask noncitizens

And this month, documents found on the computer backups of a deceased Republican strategist offered the most persuasive evidence yet that the decision was driven not by policy, but by partisanship.

The files show that the strategist, Thomas B. Hofeller, had outlined in 2015 how Republicans could gain political power by basing new political maps on the number of voting-age citizens instead of total population — a strategy, he wrote, that could only be realized with data from a census citizenship question.

Democrats in Congress are seeking to unearth even more information about how the Commerce Department made its decision. Thousands of documents have already been turned up in lawsuits, but almost nothing is known about the extent to which the White House was directly involved.

After Mr. Trump invoked executive privilege to block disclosure of documents on the census, a House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend that the House hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Mr. Ross in contempt of Congress.

Educators Worry a Census Citizenship Question Would Lead to Less Funding

Educators Worry a Census Citizenship Question Would Lead to Less Funding If the 2020 census includes a citizenship question, educators are worried about the potential loss in education funding.

President Donald Trump dropped a fight to put a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 census , but ordered federal agencies to give the The Supreme Court in a decision last month effectively barred the Trump administration from adding such a question to the census , as it had planned to do.

More lawmakers are calling for a subpoena to force the Census Bureau and Commerce Department to release documents about the controversial citizenship question before an upcoming hearing. The Democrats' letter notes that regardless of the legal fight over the citizenship question , members of

Challenges to the citizenship question are now before the Supreme Court, which is expected to issue a final ruling before the court’s term ends later this month. In arguments before the court in April, conservative justices seemed ready to accept the Trump administration’s argument that it had both the discretion and a sound reason to measure citizenship in 2020.

Experts say that adding a citizenship question would deter immigrants and minority residents from responding to the census, leading to an undercount in the predominantly Democratic areas where the bulk of them live. In addition, a census that reveals with precision where noncitizens live is crucial to plans by some conservatives to base political districts not on total population, but on the number of voting-age citizens. That, too, would benefit Republicans, particularly in states like Texas and California with large numbers of foreign-born residents.

Suspicions that an ulterior motive lay beneath Mr. Ross’s decision have been further bolstered by the way that decision was made — almost totally in secret and without testing of its language, in contrast to the years of surveys and consultation that have preceded every previous change in the census questionnaire.

Uncounted: How the census loses track of millions of children

Uncounted: How the census loses track of millions of children The Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on whether respondents to the 2020 census can be asked if those in their households are citizens. But while the citizenship question has been the most visible census-related controversy, it has not been the only one. Another, less publicized but similarly consequential debate, is why the census manages to lose millions of children every decade, and what can be done to fix that. There were 2.2 million missing from the 2010 count, or one in every 10 children ages 0 to 4, according to the Census Bureau’s own estimates. The lost children result in lost dollars for themselves and their neighbors.

Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant on census matters who managed the issue for the Obama transition team in 2008, said that virtually everything about the administration’s handling of the citizenship question “raised significant alarm bells.”

“The traditional process for determining census questions is done primarily in the public arena,” she said. “And that simply did not happen this time.”

When Mr. Ross announced his decision to add a question on citizenship to the census, he cast it as the culmination of months of intensive research by Census Bureau experts and advice from members of Congress, businesses and interest groups with a stake in an accurate head count and the public.

That was true only in the narrowest of senses. Evidence in the lawsuits shows that interest in the question dated to the fall of 2016, when a transition team preparing for the Trump presidency added it to a list of issues to consider. That suggestion came from Mr. Hofeller, the mastermind of a string of gerrymanders drawn in 2011 that locked the Republican Party into a decade of control in state legislatures nationwide.

Mr. Ross has repeatedly said that he decided to add a citizenship question only after the Justice Department requested it, saying better citizenship data would assist Voting Rights Act enforcement. Evidence in the lawsuits has showed, though, that Mr. Ross pressured the department to request the citizenship question, not the other way around.

Census Fight Grows as House Panel Backs Contempt and Trump Asserts Privilege

Census Fight Grows as House Panel Backs Contempt and Trump Asserts Privilege A House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend that the House hold two cabinet secretaries in contempt of Congress, hours after President Trump invoked executive privilege to block disclosure of crucial documents on the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The House Oversight and Reform Committee’s contempt recommendation for Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sets up a possible vote on the House floor in the coming weeks. It was the culmination of a monthslong dispute with the administration over the panel’s efforts to compel testimony from top officials and documents related to the census question.

Adding the question appeared to be a top priority for the commerce secretary.

Less than two weeks after taking office in 2017, Mr. Ross tasked an aide with researching whether recent censuses had asked about citizenship (they had not) and whether noncitizens were included in population counts used for redistricting (they were).

That April, at the request of Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Ross talked about the census with Kris Kobach, at the time the Kansas secretary of state and a virulent opponent of immigration. In a subsequent email, Mr. Kobach told Mr. Ross that adding a citizenship question was essential to solve “the problem that aliens who do not actually ‘reside’ in the United States are still counted for congressional apportionment.”

Mr. Ross later said he did not act on Mr. Kobach’s advice.

It was not until December that the Justice Department formally requested a citizenship question in a three-page request saying that adding the query was “critical” to getting precise enough data on noncitizens to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

In the months that followed, expert analysts there concluded that the question would deter at least 630,000 households with millions of residents from filling out the census form, and offered Mr. Ross alternatives that they said would produce much the same data. Both public comments on the proposal and the response from businesses and experts were almost uniformly opposed to adding the question.

Mr. Ross, however, was undeterred, and the Commerce Department later said that his wooing of the Justice Department was not evidence of skulduggery, but a civics-book example of how policy is made.

“Executive branch officials discussing important issues prior to formulating policy is evidence of good government,” a spokesman, Kevin Manning, said in a statement. “Executive branch officials worked together to ensure that Secretary Ross received all of the information necessary to make an informed decision.”

Sheelagh McNeill contributed research in New York

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Judge in census case: New evidence alleging political motivation behind citizenship question 'raises a substantial issue'.
In a blow to the Trump administration, a federal trial judge said Wednesday that he believes new evidence presented in a challenge to the 2020 census citizenship question "raises a substantial issue." require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The decision could lead to reopening one of three federal trials into the citizenship question and lead to further examinations of Republican redistricting consultant Thomas Hofeller's role in developing the question.

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