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In the photo: Secretary of Commerce of the Trump Administration, Wilbur Ross. Photo: Getty.
In the photo: Secretary of Commerce of the Trump Administration, Wilbur Ross. Photo: Getty.

Judge blocks citizenship question in Census 2020 and calls it 'a violation of the law'

One year after the Department of Commerce announced the reinstatement of the question of citizenship in the Census, a court strikes down the move and calls it…

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Last March, the Department of Commerce announced the reincorporation of the question of citizenship in the Census 2020, which was perceived as an alienation strategy against specific communities in the country - such as the undocumented and Hispanic, specifically - that could also be excluded from the voting process.

Considering that the census is a population counting protocol that determines the destination of state funds, a non-transparent count would severely disadvantage communities that are not taken into account.

Initially, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross argued the measure by claiming that it was an effort to "help implement the Voting Rights Act" and to "obtain complete and accurate information to fulfill this legitimate government purpose,” but the rejection was immediately felt.

Organizations such as the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) initiated a campaign denouncing the measure and raising awareness about the effects of an irregular count, as well as the rejection of the "political motivations" behind the government’s strategy, which resulted in several simultaneous lawsuits against the Department’s decision.

However, the sentence of Federal Judge Jesse M. Furman on Monday has put a brake on the attempts of the government to reincorporate the question - at least for now.

Furman "ordered the administration to stop its plans to add the question of citizenship to the survey" until the "legal defects" that he described in his sentence were corrected.

For the judge, "adding a question of citizenship to the census will result in a significant reduction in self-response rates among non-citizen households and Hispanics," echoing the legal demands introduced by the State of New York along with others 16 states and organizations like ACLU.

Despite attempts by Secretary Ross to argue the reinstatement of the question, documents made public last year showed that his testimony before Congress had not been entirely accurate when he stated that "the question had been incorporated at the request of the Department of Justice," giving more weight to the lawsuits against him.

In response, Furman ruled that Ross's decision to incorporate the question "violated the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 that prohibits federal agencies from acting arbitrarily and capriciously," Mother Jones reported.

Furman added that Ross "alternately ignored, clandestinely selected or misinterpreted the evidence in the file before him," as well as "acted in an irrational manner" and "did not justify significant deviations from past policies and practices."

That is to say, Ross would’ve been acting under political and personal prejudice when trying to suppress the participation of communities sensitive to the question of citizenship, something that has characterized the Trump Administration since day one.

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