OLYMPIA January 15, 2019 – Attorney General Bob Ferguson today issued the following statement after a federal judge in New York ruled against the Trump Administration’s decision to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 U.S. Census.
“Today’s ruling is a major victory for all Washingtonians and an affirmation of our values as a country,” Ferguson said. “The Census Bureau’s own research confirms that asking people about their citizenship status would significantly undermine its Constitutional mandate: an accurate count of everyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status. This question would have jeopardized significant federal funding Washington receives every year and diluted our congressional representation for the next decade.”
Reviewing the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to add the citizenship question, Judge Jesse M. Furman found that “[h]e failed to consider several important aspects of the problem; alternately ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued the evidence in the record before him; acted irrationally both in light of that evidence and his own stated decisional criteria; and failed to justify significant departures from past policies and practices — [resulting in] a veritable smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut APA violations.”
On April 30, Ferguson joined a multistate lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit challenges the Administration’s decision to add the question to the Census on constitutional and statutory grounds. The City of Seattle also joined the lawsuit.
In February, Ferguson joined 18 other Attorneys General and the governor of Colorado in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross arguing that a question regarding citizenship “would significantly depress participation, causing a population undercount that would disproportionately harm states and cities with large immigrant communities.”
In 2015, Washington received more than $650 million in federal highway money and nearly $460 million in school funding and federal special education grants directly tied to the Census count. That same year, the state received nearly $4 billion under the Medicaid program, some of which could also be in jeopardy if the state’s population is undercounted.
Roughly one in seven Washington residents is an immigrant, and one in eight native-born U.S. citizens in Washington lives with at least one immigrant. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 351,000 people in Washington lived with at least one undocumented family member.
Assistant Attorney General Laura Clinton and Deputy Solicitor General Peter Gonick are handling the case for Washington.
Ferguson has filed 33 lawsuits against the Trump Administration and has not lost a case. Ferguson now has 18 legal victories against the federal government since President Trump assumed office. Nine of those cases are finished and cannot be appealed. The Trump Administration has appealed or may appeal the other nine, which include lawsuits involving Dreamers, 3D-printed guns and the transgender military ban.