WASHINGTON, DC, March 28, 2018 – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, hosted a telephone press briefing to discuss Secretary Ross’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census.

A recording of today’s call is available here.

Civil rights leaders and census experts from diverse communities discussed why adding the citizenship question was the wrong decision, and how it is likely to jeopardize a fair and accurate census.

“While it would be tremendously easy to litigate Ross’s memo line-by-line, we cannot lose sight of the big picture: Ross is simply trying to shrink-wrap a respectable label on a bottle filled with Trump’s poisonous partisan agenda. In fact, existing Census Bureau research already documents the growing reluctance of survey respondents to take part in any Census Bureau surveys – all due to the “climate of fear” created by the Trump Administration’s hostile policies and rhetoric,” Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said. “The civil rights community is speaking with a clear, united voice: this decision is wrong for our communities, our democracy, and our country, and we will fight to overturn it.”

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund said, “In yet another assault on immigrants, Latinos and the 2020 Census, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Trump Administration today chose to put politics above the interests of the American people.  By deciding to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census at the 11th hour, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has further undermined the integrity of one of the most preeminent scientific agencies in the world, further jeopardizing the accuracy of the 2020 Census and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in the process.  The stakes are too high for a failed 2020 Census, and we will not sit idly by as those with malice intentions seek to thwart a fair and accurate count of immigrants, Latinos and all Americans.  The fight has just begun, and we will not stop until we have exhausted all avenues to provide the Census Bureau with the fix and certainty it needs to tackle its most ambitious task yet, counting the largest American population in history.”

“The citizenship question and similar policies by this administration seek to leave minority communities undercounted, under-represented, and under-protected. The Commerce Department has shirked its responsibility of ensuring that all questions are properly tested and lead to accurate data. This decision compromises the integrity and accuracy of the 2020 Census,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works to build an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its 200-plus member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

NALEO Educational Fund is the leading nonprofit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.  To learn more about NALEO Educational Fund’s work on Census issues, visit www.naleo.org/census2020 or text CENSUS to 97779 to opt in and subscribe to the organization’s Get-Out-The-Count SMS Campaign (standard messaging rates apply).

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.