President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is dropping the effort to include a question on the 2020 census asking whether each participant is a citizen of the United States, but that he will sign an executive order directing all federal agencies to hand over citizenship data to the Department of Commerce.
The United States Supreme Court denied the administration’s attempt to add the question, saying the stated rationale — that the data was necessary to enforce the Voting Right Act — was not credible.
Thursday’s executive order drew a blistering response from League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) President Domingo Garcia, who is in Milwaukee for the group’s national convention.
“I think it’s a great victory” that the president has backed away from the citizenship question, Garcia said in a news conference. “The fact that they finally understood that it is unconstitutional to try to add his citizenship question to our senses. The fact of the matter is, the Supreme Court has already ruled on that. We know that the only reason to have a citizenship question is to disenfranchise Latino voters (and) to affect apportionment of Congressional districts at the state, local and national level.”
But he said LULAC plans to file suit in federal courts in New York, California and Washtington, DC to stop the administration from collecting data on citizenship from federal agencies.
“The kidnapper in chief needs to stop trying to suppress the Latino voters,” he said. “Our vote is up for grabs. Reach out on policy, on issues and stop trying to rig the system to make sure that they stay in power. That’s not the way you do it.”
Garcia said that data could include health and financial records, and that using it to determine citizenship status is “unconstitutional and illegal.”
Garcia called on Republicans and Christians to speak up against the president’s immigration policies.
“I cannot believe that our fellow Republican friends are not challenging him to just stop it,” he said. “It is deafening, the silence coming from the Southern Baptist Convention and US Conference of Catholic Bishops and from Evangelical churches regarding the treatment of immigrants on the border and of refugees.”
Garcia said it’s important, now that the citizenship question is off the table, that everyone living in the United States fill out the census forms, whether they’re citizens or not.
“LULAC is going to make an effort, and many other organizations too, to encourage everyone to be counted,” he said. “That’s how Congressional districts are apportioned. We are going to make sure that everybody answers the questions, every person is counted, and then the funds and the political power is apportioned in a fair way.”
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