Census Transparency Under Assault

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September 24, 2018

IRLI defends Dept. of Commerce plan to ask about citizenship

WASHINGTON — On Friday, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in support of the Department of Commerce, which oversees the U.S. census. A coalition of open-borders groups is suing to block the Department from implementing its plan to ask census responders whether they are U.S. citizens. IRLI represents the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in its brief supporting the government.

A question about citizenship was part of the census for decades, until the Obama administration stopped asking it. Plaintiffs argue that asking about citizenship again now will make illegal aliens less likely to fill out census forms, and thus result in an unlawful “undercount.” Plaintiffs also claim that the citizenship question, and the undercount it supposedly will cause, is intended to harm certain racial or ethnic groups, and will harm them, in violation of the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection of the laws.

As IRLI points out in its brief, however, plaintiffs never explain how the citizenship question will cause any group to be worse off than any other group in similar circumstances – a fatal defect in an equal protection claim. As for plaintiffs’ claim that the Trump administration desires to harm certain racial or ethnic groups, IRLI shows how it is based only on statements such as ones the President has made criticizing the Mexican government, or categories of vicious alien criminals. Plaintiffs never even claim that the President or any member of his administration has ever said anything against Mexicans, or immigrants, generally.

“As the Supreme Court has emphasized, the federal census has included questions seeking data beyond the raw census counts for more than two centuries,” explained Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Now open-borders activists are saying everything is different because Trump is President. But spin is not reality, and talking points that go back to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 convention fall woefully short of showing, in a court of law, that anyone in the administration intends harm to any group merely by asking census responders whether they are U.S. citizens.”

The case is La Union del Pueblo Entero, et al. v. Dep’t of Commerce, et. al, No. 8:18-cv-1570 (S.D.N.Y.).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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