Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Applauds the Federal Court Ruling in New York v. Department of Commerce Barring the Use of Citizenship on the 2020 Decennial Census

Jan 16, 2019
Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                 Contact: Robin Chand

January 15, 2019                                                                                  (202) 225–3816

 

Press Statement

 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Applauds the Federal Court Ruling in New York v. Department of Commerce Barring the Use of Citizenship on the 2020 Decennial Census

Jackson Lee: “The decision to ask about citizenship always invited concern, and has the potential to disproportionately impact vulnerable and underserved communities, as well as communities of color.  For example, given the current political climate, it had the potential to intimidate potential respondents, irrespective of their citizenship status.  It is no coincidence that the initial decision to ask of citizenship was opposed by groups such as the NAACP and other civil rights organizations. Also, the consequences of this decision were not relegated to “blue states” or “red states.”  Statistics show that 60 percent of the country’s undocumented immigrants live in urban areas, a majority of which was won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. An undercount of metropolitan urban areas could adversely affect the funds received by cities such as Houston, Austin and Dallas.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, and senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget issued this statement following the court’s decision in New York v. Department of Commerce:

“Earlier today, a federal judge in New York found that the United States Department of Commerce violated several federal statutes when it placed a question about citizenship on the 2020 national decennial census. The decision issued was both sweeping and damming.  Specifically, the court made four findings:

First, the Court conclude[d] that Secretary Ross ignored and violated a clear statutory duty to rely on administrative records (rather than direct inquiries) to the “maximum extent possible,” 13 U.S.C. § 6c, rendering his decision “not in accordance with law,” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Second, even if that statute did not exist, Secretary Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question rather than collect citizenship data through more effective and less costly means was “not supported by the reasons [he] adduce[d],” Service, 522 U.S. at 374, making it “arbitrary and capricious” in violation of Section 706(A). Third, although a closer question, the Court [found] that Secretary Ross failed to satisfy the statutory requirement that he report any plan to address the subject of citizenship to Congress at least three years before the decennial census, in violation of Title 13, United States Code, Section 141(f)(1). And fourth, the Court conclude[d] that Secretary Ross’s decision was pretextual — that the rationale he provided for his decision was not his real rationale.’

 

“Those of us who believe that a full and comprehensive count of the people in our land—citizens and noncitizens alike—strengthens our nation, are pleased by the Court’s holding and reasoning. Our decennial census is a critical exercise, as it dictates the representative power of each state and helps inform the internal redistribution of our national assets.  The decision to ask about citizenship always invited concern, and had the potential to disproportionately impact vulnerable and underserved communities, as well as communities of color.  For example, given the current political climate, it had the potential to intimidate potential respondents, irrespective of their citizenship status.  It is no coincidence that the initial decision to ask of citizenship was opposed by groups such as the NAACP and other civil rights organizations.

“It also appeared that the decision to ask about citizenship was not driven by concerns to get an accurate count, but instead by politics.  The consequences of this decision were not relegated to “blue states” or “red states.”  Statistics show that 60 percent of the country’s undocumented immigrants live in urban areas, a majority of which was won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. An undercount of metropolitan urban areas could adversely affect the funds received by cities such as Houston, Austin and Dallas.  

“Lastly, the Commerce Department’s decision to ask about citizenship was reminiscent of an uglier time in our country’s history where the questions about fair and equal representation were informed by immutable characteristics, such as race.  I am pleased by the ruling issued by Judge Jesse Furman in New York v. Department of Commerce, and I look forward to seeing the decision affirmed in appellate courts.”

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Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing the 18th Congressional District of Texas, is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security and the Budget. She is a Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.