Pennsylvania joins states and cities to sue over census question

Written by The Associated Press | Apr 3, 2018 1:10 PM

FILE PHOTO: In this March 15, 2010, file photo, copies of the 2010 Census forms in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

(New York) -- Pennsylvania, 16 other states, the District of Columbia and six cities have sued the U.S. government, saying a plan to add a citizenship demand to the census questionnaire is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed today in Manhattan federal court.

The lawsuit said adding the citizenship demand to the 2020 census questionnaire was an arbitrary decision that will "fatally undermine the accuracy of the population count."

"At first glance, this move by the Trump Administration might seem innocuous, but evidence has shown the addition of a citizenship question will depress turnout - resulting in an inaccurate Census count that would hurt Pennsylvania," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. "The United States Constitution requires a full count of all residents, whether they are citizens or not. It's vital that the 2020 Census be conducted fairly, accurately and in accordance with the law so Pennsylvania receives the representation and federal resources we deserve."

Shapiro notes Pennsylvania is home to 870,000 non-citizens -- or 3.3 percent of total population. The highest percentage residing in Avondale in Chester County, where non-citizens make up 36.5 percent of the population. In Philadelphia, non-citizens pay approximately $6 billion in taxes each year and immigrant-owned businesses contribute significantly to Main Street business growth.

"Immigrants - both naturalized citizens and legal residents - are key members of our communities. They open new businesses, create job opportunities and generate tax revenue," Attorney General Shapiro added. "All people residing in Pennsylvania, including students, those with work visas, and people with green cards, must be included in our population count in order to ensure Pennsylvania gets our fair share of federal resources."

A government spokesman did not immediately comment on the filing.

Several states already have joined a separate lawsuit filed by California's attorney general last week that seeks to block the citizenship question from being added to the census questionnaire.

New York Attorney General Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the new lawsuit.

The NAACP says the plans for the census will lead to a massive undercounting of blacks.

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