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Mar 29, 2018

Latino Legislators Condemn Citizenship Question in Census

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), which represents the voices of more than 400 Hispanic state legislators from across the country, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, today strongly condemned the Administration’s decision to include a question regarding the US Citizenship status of respondents of the 2020 Census.

“We are outraged that in the 21st Century the federal government would interfere politically with the nation’s Census. Our state and local governments depend on having the most accurate data possible for the apportionment of our districts, for the formulas several federal agencies and Congress use to appropriate taxpayer resources, and to have a sound system of counting every person in this country, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person shall be counted, and we intend to fight this decision to the very end so that this sacred constitutional provision is respected,” NHCSL President and Senator Carmelo Ríos (PR) said.

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state… – Amendment XIV, Section 2, US Constitution.

Ríos added that: “This decision was taken at the eleventh hour and demonstrates the plainly partisan and racist purposes behind the decision to include the citizenship question. The Administration’s own prior statements serve as incriminating evidence. In January, the Office of Management and Budget struck a question to combine the ethnicity and race categories for which there was ample research and support, alleging that more research was needed. The fact that the new citizenship question has not been researched at all, and in fact was excluded from the main Census test currently taking place in Rhode Island, speaks volumes about the arbitrary and capricious intent of this decision. Therefore, if the Administration is unwilling to reverse this decision, Congress has the responsibility to step in and overturn both decisions designed to undermine the entire decennial Census process. The Courts certainly have good reasons to do so.”

NHCSL Vice President for Public Policy Rep. Carlos Tobón (RI), in whose district the Census is currently testing their questions, said: “The fact that the federal government announced the addition of this unconstitutional and ill-advised question after tests were already being conducted in Providence County, which is in my district in my home state of Rhode Island, speaks volumes. No serious statistician would allow a question such as this to be added without testing it first. This goes to show that there is no credible argument for this other than a transparent intent to distort the actual Census count and show an artificially low number of minorities, all of which could have disastrous effects on the nation’s funding streams. In addition, most serious statisticians base their socioeconomic research on Census data. If that data is faulty, the entire nation’s statistical and informational infrastructure could suffer as a result. That is why the citizenship question must be removed and I am proud to support NHCSL in its efforts to ensure a fair and accurate Census is conducted.”

NHCSL recently approved a resolution during the organization’s annual summit meeting in Chicago last month, which states that “…according to the latest studies from the US Census Bureau, at least 132 Federal programs use Census data to distribute more than $675 billion in Federal funds annually.” The resolution further reiterates NHCSL’s collective belief that “14th Amendment to the Constitution requires that all persons, regardless of race, citizenship or legal status, be counted in the decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.” The text of the resolution in its entirety is attached.

“Instead of using the Voting Rights Act as an excuse to lower the count of immigrant Americans and other minorities, the federal government should be strengthening and protecting this solemn statute, that was precisely enacted to protect against the type of arbitrary discrimination that adding a citizenship question to the Census would provoke. The last thing we should be doing is breaching decades of trust built between the professional career staff at the Census and immigrant communities. Every person living in this country, according to the Constitution, needs to be counted and we should be doing everything in our power to ensure that no one is intimidated from responding,” said NHCSL Executive Director Kenneth Romero-Cruz.

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NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 410 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.