Once again, California is pushing back on a new Trump administration proposal that would require census questionnaires to inquire about citizenship.
On Tuesday, February 13, a coalition of 19 of the nation’s state attorneys general, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, threatened the administration with another lawsuit, arguing that the “unconstitutional” proposal would have a disquieting effect on immigrant involvement in the official population count.
“What the Trump administration is requesting is not just alarming, it is illegal,” Becerra said in the letter, noting that the California Dept. of Justice is ready to “take any and all necessary legal action” against the proposal.
“This is clearly an attempt to bully and discourage our immigrant communities from participating in the 2020 Census count,” Becerra added.
California is home to a large, vast immigrant population; approximately 1 in 4 of the nation’s foreign-born population reside in California.
The decennial population count is primarily used to determine the number of representatives in Congress that is entitled to each state. This would negatively affect states with large immigrant populations which would receive an inaccurate number of representatives
In December 2017, the United States Justice Department submitted the request to the U.S. Census Bureau, stating that it would serve to determine the citizenship voting-age population as required by Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Becerra and his colleagues argued that, however, that inquiring about citizenship violates the Constitution that calls for the U.S. Census Bureau to count “the whole number of persons in each State,” rather than just citizens.
Immigration talks in full force
No issue has rocked the nation during the first year of the Trump administration more than immigration reform.
In addition to the states’ battle with the administration on the immigration front, lawmakers in Congress also find themselves in the middle of a major immigration compromise.
This week, the Senate began an intensive, open-ended immigration debate with the goal to conjure up a deal for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama-era program that provided undocumented youth a host of benefits, including protection from deportation.
The main objective is to achieve a bill unmuddied by the current political climate, which has undoubtedly been complicated by President Donald Trump whose wavering, reactionary views on immigrants since his presidential campaign.
Previously, Trump has said that he’s willing to sign legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients as long as the bill confirms funding for his controversial border wall and eliminates family sponsorships.
When the administration terminated DACA in September, immigrant rights advocates were outraged and have since urged Washington to deliver a solution for the more than 690,000 DACA recipients awaiting their fates.
On Tuesday, a group of more than 250 local, state and national organizations sent a letter to Congress, urging the protection of DREAMers while continuing to reject Trump’s “nativist” immigration views, including extreme border militarization and threatening family-based sponsorships and the Diversity Visa.
“President Trump and Congressional Republicans created this moral crisis and it is up to them to work in good faith with Democrats to reach a narrow agreement that pairs a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers with smart and sensible border security measures,” read the letter from the coalition which includes Center for American Progress, the National Women’s Law Center and Service Employees International Union.
“Members of Congress must oppose efforts to hold Dreamers hostage in exchange for a nativist wish list,” the group added. “Anything that goes beyond the scope of the original agreement from last fall—namely, protecting Dreamers and making additional investments in reasonable border security—must be rejected.”
The current immigration debates largely affect the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. According to migration statistics, immigrants from Asia received more green cards than any other immigrant group in the last decade.
Asian immigrants particularly benefit from family sponsorships; 239,000 Asian immigrants received visas through family-based sponsorships in 2015.