Democrats cheer Supreme Court’s 2020 Census ruling




    Photo by U.S. Census Bureau

    For now, the 2020 Census won’t ask respondents, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”  On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the inclusion of the controversial citizenship question on the Census, calling the justification the Trump administration offered for adding the question “contrived.”

    The ruling was welcomed by Democrats in Arizona. President Donald Trump said on Twitter he is looking into delaying the Census to allow time for the court to reconsider the issue. 

    In a statement, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego denounced the suggestion of a delay.

    “Attempting to delay the 2020 Census in order to include this partisan question, as the President has suggested, is not only unconstitutional but underscores the administration’s political motivations,” Gallego said. “Even without a citizenship question, the 2010 Census failed to count 27,000 Latino children under 4 years old in Maricopa County – the second highest undercount of Latino kids in the nation. Under no circumstances can a citizenship question be included in the 2020 Census.”

    Historically, young children, Hispanic and black residents, and other demographic groups have been undercounted in the decennial census. The citizenship question would have aggravated that. In Arizona, the effects of having a citizenship question are predicted to result in a large population undercount. One study shows the state would lose out on adding a new congressional seat and Electoral College vote, besides missing millions in funding for federal programs. 

    U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva said the Supreme Court ruling bolsters democracy.

    “Despite Republican attempts to undermine our democracy and rig the Census against minority communities, the Supreme Court decided to uphold the integrity of both,” Grijalva said in a statement. “This fight is not over, and I will continue fighting to preserve the integrity of the Census and ensure that every person — both citizen and non-citizen — is counted in the 2020 Census.”

    Cities and nonprofits across Arizona are working on outreach campaigns to ensure the 2020 Census accurately reflects the state’s population.

    The Maricopa Association of Governments recently launched the iCount 2020 campaign.

    Montserrat Arredondo, executive director of One Arizona, a coalition of organization focused on civic engagement of Latinos, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. 

    “As the Supreme Court has now recognized, the inclusion of a citizenship question is a cynical ploy from the Trump administration to undercount and undermine the electoral power of immigrant communities,” Arredondo said. “As relieved as we are by today’s decision, we know that this fight is not over. But no matter what happens, One Arizona and our partners will stand together to make sure that each and every person in Arizona is counted.”

    Phoenix is among the cities that joined one of the lawsuits challenging the citizenship questions. 

    U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix, who was Phoenix mayor at the time, praised the Supreme Court’s ruling.

    “Today’s decision affirms what we have known all along: the Administration’s plan to add a citizenship question was ill-conceived, and officials have lacked candor about their intentions,” Stanton said in a statement. “That is why, for more than a year now, we have fought this question, and we will continue to fight for a fair Census until the count is complete.”

    Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in a statement she’s happy about the Supreme Court ruling. 

    “The 2020 Census is not just about funding, or district and congressional representation, it is about equity. It is about ensuring that all residents are given equal opportunity to be represented in the fabric of our country,” she said. “While I am happy with today’s Supreme Court decision, I know this is not the last time we’ll debate this issue. Phoenix remains committed to continuing the diligent work of educating people on the importance of their voices in the census count.”

    The City of Phoenix has proposed to setting aside $1.5 million for its next fiscal year for outreach related to the 2020 Census. 

    Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who signed onto an amicus brief in the Supreme Court arguments opposing the citizenship question, said Thursday’s ruling was the right thing both for the nation and for Arizona.

    “An undercount would set off a chain of events that would directly jeopardize communities and programs in Arizona,” Hobbs said. “Every person should count, and that is the bottom line.”

    Phoenix council members Laura Pastor and Michael Nowakowski also weighed in in favor of Thursday’s ruling. 

    Pastor said the decision was appropriate. 

    “This decision to block the question is wholly appropriate and allows the City of Phoenix to focus on what is most important: building trust with all our communities and getting an accurate count of everyone living in our city,” she said. 

    Nowakowski added, “This is a victory for the Phoenix community, but now we must get to work. It is important that every person in our city be counted in the 2020 Census. Having an accurate count is vital for the City as the census determines the distribution of millions of dollars in federal and state funds for programs and services our residents rely on.”

    Laura Gómez
    Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.

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