Thursday, June 27, 2019

House Dems: SCOTUS rejection of citizenship census question a victory; Now we must ensure accurate count

 PHOENIX – House Democrats, including plaintiffs in the case, called today's Supreme Court ruling to block a citizenship question in the 2020 Census a cautious victory, especially for a diverse fast-growing state like Arizona. But the 5-4 decision -- which left in place lower-court rulings that the citizenship question was improperly added for political reasons to advantage Republicans in redistricting – does not guarantee an accurate census count. Democrats stressed the Trump Administration might try to add the question again under a new rational, and we must now work "harder than ever" to ensure all Arizonans are counted.  

"I hope today's ruling permanently blocks the Trump administration's purely political effort to punish increasingly diverse states like Arizona and put the thumb on the scale for Republicans in Congressional and legislative redistricting after 2020," said House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez, D-Yuma. "Adding a citizenship question would have intimidated potential respondents and resulted in a severe undercount in Arizona. That would have diverted hundreds of millions of dollars away from vital federally funded programs that support roads, public education, nutrition, healthcare, victims of crime, community development, assistance for utilities to prevent heat-related deaths and more. We must now work harder than ever to encourage all Arizonans to respond to ensure an accurate count."

Rep. Diego Espinoza has led Democratic efforts in the House to fund census outreach efforts, and was one of four members to sign onto an amicus brief opposing the citizenship question in the Department of Commerce v. New York case decided today.

"Undermining the integrity of the of the census has been defeated for now. But we must remain alert for any attempt to discredit the census to protect a fair and accurate count of our state," said Espinoza, D- Tolleson. "That will require resources and an action plan, as well as a complete count committee that truly represents our state. We must continue to be vigilant to ensure our state coordinates an accurate count that will provide the fair representation, fairly appropriated resources and deliver to our constituents our share of investment to move Arizona forward."

Rep. César Chávez, co-chair of the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus, was also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"Our government should not be instilling fear in the American people. Its job is to serve and preserve the wellbeing of all," said Chávez, D-Phoenix. "Today’s Supreme Court decision only reaffirms that the President’s divisive agenda towards certain communities is not welcomed. As the Co-Chair of the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus, I'm proud to acknowledge that we joined this lawsuit from the beginning. It has taken bold stances to get to this moment, and we intend to move forward with efforts that protect the values and constitutional rights of every individual."