A total of 17 states have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Tuesday, alleging the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 census survey is unconstitutional.
The states joining Schneiderman’s lawsuit include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
In March, the Trump administration announced that it planned to add a question about citizenship status to the next decennial census. The census hasn’t asked U.S. households about their citizenship since 1950. They said the question would help enforce the section of the Voting Rights Act the protects the rights of minorities.
However, not everyone thinks that adding the question is a good idea. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the lawsuit, said the question will reduce responses in states with large immigrant populations, causing an inaccurate count of all the people in the country.
“This is really just an effort to punish places like New York that welcome immigrants, that are accommodating to immigrants and embrace the American tradition of open arms for all,” Schneiderman said. “We stand to lose money because this determines congressional representation and the Electoral College. This is an affront to our national ideals and this is an affront to the constitution.”
Schneiderman added that the question may also scare anyone with a mixed status family or anyone worried about the anti-immigrant animus.
Other New York democrats criticized the plan during a recent news conference.
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler said the question was a “brazen attempt by the Trump administration to cheat on the census, to undermine the integrity of the census and to attack states … to steal electoral votes from those states and give them to more congenial states that will vote Republican.”
Stephen Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said that almost $700 billion of New York’s funding is determined by the census and that if the Trump administration turned the census into weapon, the state will do everything to protect it.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan agreed with Schneiderman that the citizenship question would discourage some people from participating.
“I am filing this lawsuit to ensure that immigrants in Illinois are represented fairly and accurately,” she said.