A second state is suing the Trump administration to stop the government from including a citizenship question in the 2020 Census.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, D, announced Tuesday he would lead a multistate lawsuit to stop the change, arguing that asking about citizenship in the census would discourage immigrants from participating.
"The Trump Administration's reckless decision to suddenly abandon nearly 70 years of practice by demanding to know the citizenship status of each resident counted ... will create an environment of fear and distrust in immigrant communities that would make impossible both an accurate Census and the fair distribution of federal tax dollars," Schneiderman said in a statement.
The U.S. Commerce Department announced Monday that the citizenship question would be included, fulfilling a request by the Department of Justice for better enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights. Mainstream media organizations ABC and NBC claimed that the last time the census asked participants about U.S. citizenship was in 1950. But the question was asked as recently as 2000 and was also asked in 1990 and 1980.
New York joins California in opposition to the citizenship question. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, D, blasted the return to an old policy as anti-immigrant.
"This request is an extraordinary attempt by the Trump administration to hijack the 2020 census for political purposes," Becerra wrote in an op-ed with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, D. "Since the first day of his presidential campaign and through his first year in office, President Trump has targeted immigrants: vilifying them and attempting to exclude them from the country."
Democrats in California and New York benefit politically from the status quo. Seats in the House of Representatives are apportioned to states by total population. The states with the biggest illegal immigrant populations benefit by having extra seats in the House, reflecting the populations of their districts, even though American political representation is reserved for citizenship and illegal immigrants cannot vote in federal elections. California would lose five seats in the House and New York would lose one were the census to stop counting illegal immigrants or differentiate them from citizens.
The leftist attorneys general of California and New York are not suing the Trump administration to protect immigrant interests. They are cynically protecting the distortion of representation of American citizens in Congress in order to protect the size of the Democratic conference in the House of Representatives.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the years that a citizenship question was on the census. CR regrets the error.