Barring something truly unforeseen, Texas is officially out of the woods when it comes to a potential citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. census. In an email sent to opposing counsel in the ongoing legal fight over the question, lawyers for the Department of Justice said Tuesday that the "decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question, and that the printer has been instructed to begin the printing process."
Activists and lawmakers who sued the Trump administration over the proposed question argued that its would-be inclusion was motivated by racial bias, rather than a desire to solicit more accurate information about census participants.
Undocumented residents of Texas and other states might avoid census takers, fearing that their status would be used against them, plaintiffs argued, hurting millions of people who rely on federal programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Head Start.
According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, Texas stood to lose almost $300 million in federal cash for every 1% of its residents who weren't counted by the census.
“A xenophobic, unnecessary, ill-timed citizenship question would threaten the accuracy of the 2020 census, which Texans rely on for political representation, federal funding and more," Ann Beeson, the center's CEO, said last week, when the Supreme Court initially rejected the question. "In the meantime, CPPP and our allies will continue working overtime to make sure every Texan gets counted in the 2020 census. We will continue to fight for the representation and resources our communities deserve.”
Despite the Supreme Court decision, President Donald Trump indicated as recently as Monday that he believed the census should be delayed until his administration could figure out a legal rationale to the question.
“I think it's very important to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal,” he said at the White House, according to the Los Angeles Times . “I think there's a big difference, to me, between being a citizen of the United States and being an illegal.”
Texas Democrats celebrated the administration’s abrupt change of course.
“The purpose of Trump’s census citizenship question was simple — silence immigrants and communities of color from having a voice in our government. It was all about fear and power," said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa. "Today is a victory for all of us. The very foundation of our democracy is built on an accurate census count. The census is about making sure that every single person has representation. The Trump administration has been called out, challenged and forced to drop this racist ploy of adding a citizenship question to the census."
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