Houston Chronicle by Bill Lambrecht 11/12/2018
The first trial challenging the Trump administrationâ€™s plan to ask people in the 2020 census if they are U.S. citizens has unearthed evidence that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross began pushing for the question even before he was confirmed last year, and that Ross took advice from anti-immigration hardliners.
In U.S. District Court in New Yorkâ€™s Southern District, the trial could conclude this week amid speculation that the Supreme Court likely will decide the issue. The case is on a fast track given the need to make printing arrangements soon for millions of census questionnaires.
Another suit, filed by groups in Texas - where an undercount of Latinos could have profound consequences - is scheduled to be heard in federal court in January and alleges a â€œconspiracyâ€ to violate civil rights.
Critics of including the question in the census say that Texas, with an estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrants, has much to lose by an undercount of Latinos. Texas stands to add three congressional districts after the next census because of population shifts. In addition, an inaccurate count threatens Texasâ€™s share of the $600 billion in federal funds distributed by population.
Trump allies contend that the government has unlimited authority to conduct the census and that itâ€™s reasonable to collect information on the number of undocumented immigrants in the country, data that can help allocate government services.
Ross has persisted with demands to ask the citizenship question despite worries by many - including his own Census Bureau â€” that it would jeopardize an accurate count of minorities.