While President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration is moving ahead with an effort to place a citizenship question on the census, local elected officials are praising a recent Supreme Court decision to print the census without the controversial question.
“The Supreme Court has spoken and the 2020 Census must continue without a citizenship question,” Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, said in a statement to the News-Press. “Asking about citizenship would deter people from answering, and lead to underfunding and underrepresentation of communities across this nation. Census data is crucial for informing everything from fire department resources to health center funding to legislative representation — it must be inclusive and accurate.”
Assemblymember Monique Lim-n said the decision to exclude the question is a “step in the right direction” to guarantee the most accurate count.
“Census information guides the distribution of over $800 billion in federal funds set aside for communities and families,” Ms. Lim-n said in a statement, mentioning programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance, Medicare, State Children’s Health Insurance and other school programs.
“The full participation in the Census by everyone residing in California is critical to ensure our communities get the resources needed,” she said.
Several members of the Santa Barbara City Council also offered feedback on the decision.
“I hate it when parties try to turn things into a political football,” said Jason Dominguez. ” I hope for an honest count and that we can move forward civilly as one nation focused on the real problems of everyday working families.”
Meagan Harmon said she was “thrilled” with the recent decision to not include the question.
“In my view, including a citizenship question in the census fundamentally undermines its Constitutionally-enshrined purpose, which is to count every person in the United States,” she said.
Ms. Harmon said the question seems “specifically designed to intimidate immigrants and communities of color” and that including the question could result in an undercount of as many as 6.5 million people.
“Such significant potential for inaccuracy should be very troubling to all of us — particularly here in California,” she said.”I don’t believe the citizenship question has a place in our census, and I’m grateful we can move forward with getting an accurate count in 2020.”
Kristen Sneddon referred to the census as “one of the essential functions and duties of government” and said the citizenship question may have “prevented people from answering out of fear.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump said his administration is moving ahead with an effort to place a citizenship question on the census amid a fierce legal battle. Despite his own subordinates saying the citizenship question effort had been scrapped, the president called media reports of their plans to end the push “incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!”
The Supreme Court last week blocked the administration’s effort to add the question on citizenship to the census, saying Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversees the Census Bureau, had not provided an honest answer for why he wanted to make the move.
Because the census by law must keep responses anonymous, putting a citizenship question on the survey would not actually let officials know who is a legal resident and who isn’t. But it could have a major impact on the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds and the balance of political power in the country, hurting states, including California, that have large numbers of residents who are immigrants.
On Tuesday, federal attorneys told litigants in the New York challenge to the case that it would not pursue the question. Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco confirmed that the government will move ahead with printing census forms without it.
Mr. Ross said in a statement on Tuesday that the Census Bureau would be focused on conducting a “complete and accurate census” — without the citizenship question.
“I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census,” Mr. Ross said.
But then came Wednesday morning.
“We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question,” Mr. Trump tweeted.