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Activists: Citizenship status question on US Census is attack on immigrants

El fiscal general de California, Xavier Becerra, habla sobre la situación de los inmigrantes durante una rueda de prensa hoy, miércoles 6 de diciembre de 2017, en Washington DC, (Estados Unidos). Becerra criticó hoy duramente al Gobierno del presidente, Donald Trump, al que acusó de falta de transparencia y abuso de poder, a la vez que defendió que los inmigrantes “son quienes revitalizan el sueño americano”. EFE

Los Angeles, Mar 27 (EFE).- The Donald Trump administration’s move to include a question about immigrants’ citizenship status on the 2020 Census could spark a legal battle.

Activists and politicians characterized as unconstitutional and an “attack” on immigrants the inclusion of the citizenship status question on the upcoming Census, and the move spurred the California Attorney General’s Office to file suit against the Department of Commerce in an attempt to block it.

“Including a citizenship question on the 2020 census is not just a bad idea, it is illegal,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

According to Becerra, the question, which was added by the Commerce Department on Monday to the Census – undertaken every 10 years – means that “several million” undocumented migrants residing in this country might not be counted in the next round of US statistical population data gathering.

Although the Commerce Department said in a statement issued on Monday that gathering citizenship data would help the Justice Department enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights, opponents of the move said that the question would discourage immigrants from responding to the Census.

“It is a scare tactic to try to scare Latinos and others from participating in the 2020 census,” Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, told reporters.

“This is a craven attack on our democracy and a transparent attempt to intimidate immigrant communities,” said Tom Perez, the head of the Democratic National Committee.

DNC chair candidate and former US Labor Secretary Tom Perez speaks during the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Winter Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 25 February 2017. The three-day meeting includes the election of a new DNC chairperson. EFE

In February, a coalition of about 20 state attorneys general, including Becerra, warned Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that including a question on citizenship on the Census would violate the US Constitution and federal laws.

Former US Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday said that the move was an “irresponsible decision.”

At a Tuesday press conference with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Becerra said that on Monday night he filed suit against the Trump administration over the move.

Federal funding for public services such as education, safety, healthcare and transportation is allocated, in large measure, due to the number of people – whether they are US citizens or not – living in each state.

If the number of people were undercounted, as might occur if undocumented immigrants decide not to participate in the Census, this could mean that federal funding for their communities would be cut.

In addition, the number of members in the House of Representatives from each state is determined on the basis of the Census, with California – the most populous state – currently having 53 representatives, followed by Texas with 36, and Florida and New York, both with 27.

The US population, as estimated in 2017 by the Census Bureau, now totals at least 326 million, 14 percent (some 46 million) of whom are immigrants and an estimated 11.3 million of whom are undocumented.

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