Idaho Commission On Hispanic Affairs Weighs In On Ruling Blocking Census Citizenship Question

Jan 15, 2019

The U.S. Census has come a long way from a simple recording of how many people there are in a given locality.
Credit Richard Laymjan / Flickr

A federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday that the Trump Administration can’t ask a question regarding citizenship on the upcoming 2020 census.

In March of 2018, the administration said the question: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” would be added to the census. At the time, Margie Gonzalez – the head of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs – said she was sure the addition of the question would discourage some from taking part in the nationwide count.

“I still believe that,” Gonzalez said Tuesday. “I’m confident they would not have participated.”

However, in light of the New York ruling blocking the question, Gonzalez says not just the Hispanic populations she works with should be heartened.

“Our communities of color and our marginalized communities – I think this is good news for everyone involved,” says Gonzalez.

The federal judge in the east says the controversial question is constitutional. He claims the problem with it comes from how Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross went about trying to get it included on census documents. The judge says Ross didn’t follow standard procedures requiring Congress be given three years notice of any plan to add a citizenship question.

According to Gonzalez, even discussion about the possibility of the question has been damaging.

“Just by putting it out there to begin with,” she says, “I think it’s put a lot of people into question[ing] whether they want to respond to the census or not.”

The New York ruling isn’t the final say on the citizenship question. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the matter in February.

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