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Washington state to sue Trump over citizenship question on Census

The multi-state lawsuit against the Trump administration was announced Tuesday morning by New York.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson address the media following a hearing about US President Donald Trump's travel ban at the US District Court in Seattle, Washington on March 15, 2017. (JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the Trump administration over a citizenship question on the 2020 US Census.

Ferguson released the following statement:

"The Census Bureau's own research reveals asking people about their citizenship status could significantly undermine its Constitutional mandate: an accurate count of everyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status," Ferguson said. "If Washington state's large immigrant population isn't accurately counted, the impact on our Congressional representation and billions of dollars in federal funds our state receives could be jeopardized. I won't allow the Trump Administration to play politics with the Census at the expense of all Washingtonians."

The multi-state lawsuit was announced Tuesday morning.

According to the Attorney General's office: "Ferguson has not lost a case brought against the Trump Administration. The Attorney General's Office prevailed in all five cases against the Trump Administration that are completed and there are no more appeals. That does not include four additional successful outcomes that have been or could be appealed, including blocking President Trump's ban on transgender individuals serving in the military and his attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program."

Seattle and King County officials gathered on Tuesday voicing their opposition to the question and supporting Ferguson’s decision to bring a lawsuit forward.

Speaking at El Centro De La Raza, in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood, several King County leaders denounced the decision to include a citizenship question.

"First and foremost, we need a full census count and the citizenship question will not help us reach that goal," said Estela Ortega, Executive Director and Co-founder of El Centro De La Raza. "We are already concerned because a census count is critical to ensuring that communities have an equitable share of federal funding and representative government."

"Late yesterday, the administration once again put politics over sound policy and over decades of sound practice. By adding a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census the president once again seeks to use immigrants and refugees for political theater," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Seattle’s City Council published a letter, signed by every council member, opposing the change to the 2020 Census. Intended for Secretary Wilbur Ross, the letter cautions the Commerce Department of the ramifications to the city.

“Census data impacts almost every area of City policy-making, and impacts our workforce, businesses, non-profits and citizens even further,” the letter reads in part.

Seattle City Council Census Letter

Statement by Diane Narasaki, Executive Director, Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)

We at Asian Counseling and Referral Service, or ACRS, are deeply concerned about the Commerce Department’s decision to include a question about citizenship on the decennial census form and question the motives behind it.

The U.S. Constitution required a count of everyone in our country, and does not distinguish between citizens, immigrants and refugees. Decisions on allocating Congressional seats and critically needed federal funds for services and our state’s infrastructure are based on the Census. The Asian and Pacific Islander community is the fastest growing racial group in our state and nation, and 90% of our community members are either immigrants, refugees, or children of immigrants and refugees. Another rapidly growing community with a high proportion of immigrants, the Latino community, is the largest racial minority group in our state. 1 in 5 Washingtonians is either Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Latino. This does not even take into account the many African immigrants and refugees living in our state. Immigrant communities like ours include both documented and undocumented immigrants. With the President’s strident anti-immigrant statements and policies, these immigrants, whether legal or undocumented, are less likely to participate in the census if they are asked about their immigrant status. Our state and our communities will lose critically needed funds, and potentially, political representation, if the opportunity for a new Congressional seat is lost, due to the undercounting of our communities. We strenuously object to the Commerce Departments inclusion of the citizenship question for all these reasons and call on the Commerce Department and Census Bureau to drop this question.

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