MIAMI, FL – Two Florida-based immigrants’ rights groups have joined a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census. In an amended complaint filed in federal court in New York, the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and the Family Action Network Movement (FANM) were added as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last month charging that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ order intentionally discriminates against immigrant communities of color and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
“Nearly one in five people living in Florida is an immigrant, and with the administration adding a citizenship question at a time that the president is attacking immigrant communities, Floridians of all backgrounds are right to be concerned that the citizenship question will reduce their political power,” stated ACLU of Florida legal director Nancy Abudu. “We deserve a census that counts everyone fairly.”
There has not been a citizenship question on the U.S. decennial census form sent to every U.S. resident in nearly 70 years. The addition of that question — essentially a door-to-door government inquiry into the citizenship status of every member of every household in the nation — would sow more fear among immigrant communities, ultimately suppressing census participation.
Lower response rates would hurt states with large immigrant communities, causing them to lose seats in Congress and see reductions in crucial federal funding streams tied to census data.
"Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census is harmful, not just to immigrant visibility, but to municipalities that stand to lose millions of dollars in federal appropriations.” stated FLIC Executive Director Maria Rodriguez. “We will not let the political voice of immigrants be undermined by this latest attack. They benefit from our labor, they shouldn't repress our count."
Marleine Bastiene, Executive Director of FANM, stated: “Even without a citizenship question, Haitian-American families in the communities we serve are already underrepresented in the census. Given this administration’s hostile and discriminatory actions and attitudes toward immigrants of color – and especially toward Haitians – changing the census in a way that discourages participation seems like a deliberate attempt to further disenfranchise our communities and stifle our voices.”
The lawsuit, New York Immigration Coalition v. United States Department of Commerce, cites constitutional and statutory violations. It was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York on June 6.
FLIC and FANM join previous plaintiffs Casa de Maryland, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC Research Institute, New York Immigration Coalition, and Make the Road New York.
The amended complaint adds the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore to the list of defendants, which previously included the U.S. Department of Commerce, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and the U.S. Census Bureau. The amended complaint also adds the ACLU of Florida to the legal team which includes the ACLU, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Arnold & Porter.
A copy of the amended complaint is available here: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/amended-complaint-1
More information on the case is available here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/new-york-immigration-coalition-v-united-states-department-commerce