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AG James wins lawsuit against Trump over counting immigrants on the census

NYC Corporation Counsel: All persons must be counted

September 14, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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Attorney General Letitia James won a lawsuit against President Donald Trump on Thursday to stop his administration from not counting undocumented immigrants in the census and as mandated in the U.S. Constitution.

James was joined by attorneys general from 21 states plus the District of Columbia and 16 other cities in the suit. Three judges from the Southern District of New York ruled on Thursday that the U.S. Constitution explicitly requires all “persons” to be counted and doesn’t limit the count to only citizens.

“The constitution is clear:  every person must be counted in the census,” said James Johnson, the NYC Corporation Counsel, who was a part of the suit. “Every. Person. The stakes for this decision were high. It’s not just about congressional representation, though that is essential, nor is it just about federal support though that is needed. This decision is critical because it validates the yet to be realized promise of the Constitution to validate the humanity of everyone. Every. Person.”

The suit goes back to July when Attorney General James put together a coalition following remarks by President Trump, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and others that they would intentionally leave millions of undocumented immigrants out of the count.

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According to the SDNY judges deciding the case, “The merits of the parties’ dispute are not particularly close or complicated.”

“President Trump’s repeated attempts to hinder, impair, and prejudice an accurate census and the subsequent apportionment have failed once again,” said Attorney General James. “The courts have ruled in our favor on every census matter in the last two years and continually rejected President Trump’s unlawful efforts to manipulate the census for political purposes.

“We cannot allow the White House’s constant fear mongering and xenophobia to stop us from being counted,” James continued. “We urge everyone to fill out the census, if they have not already, and we will continue to take every legal action available to ensure all communities are counted, all communities are properly represented, and all communities get the federal funding they need and deserve.”

The census is a Constitutionally mandated count of every person residing in the U.S. that happens every 10 years. It is used to give out federal funds, grants and other resources to states based on population, and it determines how many U.S. Representatives each state has, among other things.

Recently, a group of 24 local bar associations, including the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, came together to write a letter that was published in newspapers asking people to fill out their census forms because New York City is in danger of being undercounted, they said.

“The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association joins with other bar leaders in the mission to inform the public of the importance of being counted in the 2020 census,” said BWBA President Natoya McGhie. “Low-income and marginalized communities in New York City have been historically uncounted. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we spread the word and encourage census participation. Brooklyn is the hardest county to count and has the lowest response rate of all the boroughs.”

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