Civil Rights Advocates Continue to Fight to Ensure a Fair and Accurate 2020 Census

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2019 – Leading civil rights organizations held a telephone press briefing today to discuss Trump’s remarks regarding the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

“Trump has begrudgingly accepted what the Supreme Court, census experts, and three federal courts have told him – he cannot weaponize the 2020 Census by adding a citizenship question,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund. “This is a welcome reprieve of his partisan agenda, and a win for all communities. Trump’s remarks were pure propaganda and a continuation of his lies. His attempt to save face is just a repackaging of what the government already does through administrative records. We remain on guard to combat any attempts to sabotage a fair and accurate count. Trump’s desire is clear – to stoke fear in immigrant communities and construct a whiter electorate. We will not allow anyone to be erased in our America. Our position remains the same: everyone counts. Now we intensify our work to ensure a fair and accurate count, especially in communities that have been historically and systemically missed at disproportionately high rates. Many people remain understandably fearful of this administration’s motives, but we commit to doing everything within our power to make sure that their data stays lawfully protected. Every person living in the United States must have access to the representation and resources they deserve.”

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“There simply was no legally sound basis that would have allowed President Trump to make an end run around the Supreme Court’s decision blocking the citizenship question on the Census. By prolonging this battle, the administration has sowed chaos and confusion,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “It is worth noting that the plan announced by the President was one available to the administration all along. Career professionals at the Census Bureau had long identified that the Commerce Department could obtain more accurate citizenship data through the means announced by the President, as opposed to asking the citizenship question. That said, we have grave concerns about the administration’s continued dogged pursuit of citizenship information for what appear to be improper, discriminatory and unconstitutional uses. We will use every tool in our arsenal to police the administration should their executive action violate constitutional or legally-protected rights. We will also now focus on getting out the count in 2020.”

“Today is a good day for the American people. We are happy that the Administration has come to its sense and conceded that the Constitution and the rule of law must prevail, said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.  Our job going forward is clear. We will work with our communities to underscore the importance of being counted. Being counted means being visible, having a say in our government, and getting the resources for our community: resources for schools, roads, and health care. We have a tremendous amount of work to do. We have lost 16 months and more because of this administration’s shameful conduct. But make no mistake: we will be counted and this administration will not silence us.”

“The NAACP is committed to ensuring that the 2020 Census does not systematically undercount communities having large African-American populations, such as inner-city neighborhoods, while substantially overcounting communities that are less racially diverse,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “The Census must not serve as a mechanism for diluting the political power of African-American communities and depriving them of their fair share of federal resources for an entire decade. We are prepared to fight against any plan that effectively turns the census into another form of voter suppression and economic disempowerment in our communities.”

“The Supreme Court has spoken. The Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was unlawful,” said Sarah Brannon, managing attorney at the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “Everyone in America counts in the Census. Today’s concession by the Trump administration that it had no choice but to proceed with the 2020 census without a citizenship question means that everyone will count.”

“Today’s decision from President Donald Trump to back down from his effort to add a citizenship question to Census 2020 is a victory for the Latino community, our democracy and nation,” said Arturo Vargas, CEO of NALEO Educational Fund. “While the citizenship question appears to now be halted for good, we know this contentious effort to undermine the progress of the Latino community and suppress the count of Latinos has left an indelible mark on Census 2020. Our work mobilizing the nation’s second largest population group remains more important than ever as we attempt to rebuild the trust that has been eroded over the course of this fight.”

“It is clear that despite the President’s announcement today that he is dropping his pursuit of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, we must continue to monitor and be vigilant about addressing this matter should an alternative pathway emerge,” said Jeri Green, senior advisor for the census at the National Urban League. “Stakeholder organizations and trusted voices who are conveying the importance of Census participation to historically undercounted populations cannot be distracted. The National Urban League, through its network of 90 affiliates, located across 36 states and the District of Columbia, serving 2 million individuals each year, is engaging communities right now on the 2020 Census. We are working even harder to ensure that the Black community is counted accurately and fairly next year on Census Day. We all deserve to be counted in the Census and receive our fair share of representation and federal funding to meet state, local and neighborhood needs. The National Urban League is in this for the long haul–unbowed, and committed to ensuring an accurate count of all underserved communities. We will not be erased from the 2020 Census. Stand up and be counted!”

“It is in the most trying times that we show our true selves. And today, as immigrants, rights advocates and organizers, we show our mettle. Because no matter what Trump throws our way as part of his hate and xenophobia, we will stop him. We will continue to raise our voices, fight to keep our families together and be counted. This is how we take a stand in a democracy that is worth protecting,” said Alma Couverthie, deputy field director for immigration at Community Change and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM).

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit civilrights.org/edfund/.

More information about The Education Fund’s Census Counts campaign is available at censuscounts.org.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice – AAJC (Washington, D.C.), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting naacp.org 

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, we take up the toughest civil liberties fights. Beyond one person, party, or side — we the people dare to create a more perfect union. Learn more at www.aclu.org

NALEO Educational Fund is the leading non-profit, non-partisan organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.

The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. The National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its 90 local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people annually nationwide. Visit www.nul.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @NatUrbanLeague.

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) is the nation’s largest immigrant-rights coalition, with grassroots organizations fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state and federal level. For more information, go to www.fairimmigration.org or follow us on Twitter @Re4mImmigration.