Attorney General Hector Balderas Announces Lawsuit Against President Trump and U.S. Dept. of Commerce to Block Citizen Question from Census


Contact: Matt Baca (505) 270-7148

Albuquerque, NM — Attorney General Balderas today joined a coalition of attorneys general, cities and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors in filing a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump Administration from demanding citizenship information in the 2020 dicennial Census. the states argue that demanding citizenship information would depress Census turnout in states with large immigrant populations, directly threatening those states’ fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College as well as billions of dollars in critical federal funds for education, infrastructure, Medicaid and more. They argue that the U.S. Constitution requires that the Census Bureau determine “the whole number of persons in each state” – citizens and noncitizens alike – and would cause a population undercount that would harm cities and states. “New Mexico will be the State hardest hit by this unconstitutional attempt to suppress participation in the census, and we cannot afford to lose billions of dollars in medicaid and other federal funds that will result,” said Attorney General Balderas. “Immigration status is irrelevant to the census, and I will aggressively fight against this attempt to intimidate New Mexican families.”

Census Bureau research shows, the decision to demand citizenship information will “inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count” by significantly deterring participation in immigrant communities, because of concerns about how the federal government will use citizenship information. In 1980, the Census Bureau rejected the addition of a citizenship question, saying, “Any effort to ascertain citizenship will inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count. Obtaining the cooperation of a suspicious and fearful population would be impossible if the group being counted perceived any possibility of the information being used against them. Questions as to citizenship are particularly sensitive in minority communities and would inevitably trigger hostility, resentment, and refusal to cooperate.” In 2009, all eight former Directors of the Census Bureau dating back to 1979 – who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents – affirmed that a citizenship question would depress participation and lead to a significant undercount, undermining the purpose of the Census itself. Today’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In addition to New Mexico, the lawsuit was joined by the states of Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington; the District of Columbia; the cities of New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, and Seattle; and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. A copy of the filed complaint is attached.