Connecticut joins coalition against census question

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This envelope contains a 2018 census test letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I. The nation's only test run of the 2020 Census is in Rhode Island, and its drawing concerns from community leaders, good government groups and others about how it's being run. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

This envelope contains a 2018 census test letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I. The nation’s only test run of the 2020 Census is in Rhode Island, and its drawing concerns from community leaders, good government groups and others about how it’s being run. (AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith)

Connecticut recently joined a multi-state lawsuit against the inclusion of a citizenship status question on the 2020 census, according to a press release from the Connecticut Attorney General’s office.

“Adding citizenship as a census question would break from decades of precedent and create a chilling effect on participation in immigrant communities,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said. 

The suit was initiated by New York. Plaintiffs include Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to the press release.

The suit claims that the inclusion of this question violates the constitutional requirement of having the census provide “actual enumeration” of the nation’s residents.

The census is a survey distributed every 10 years as mandated in the U.S. Constitution to gather demographic information. The census helps the government allocate House seats as well as resources and services to various communities. 

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said the inclusion of this question will likely harm the integrity and accuracy of the census.

“The administration’s decision to ask this question inserts a political agenda into an important government function,” Merrill said. “I’m concerned that doing so deters participation. The census is the foundation of how government resources are allocated. If people don’t participate it hurts all of us.”

The Department of Commerce announced it would add the question to the upcoming census in late March and there has been a great deal of backlash against the move since then. The last time there was a question about respondents’ citizenship on the national census was 1950, according to NPR. 

A Democratic candidate for attorney general, Clare Kendall said if she is elected, she will join the fight against this action.

“This is yet another reckless decision by the Trump Administration. Here’s the bottom line: Every single person living in the U.S. – regardless of their status – needs to be counted per the Constitution’s ‘actual enumeration’ mandate,” Kendall said.

Jepson announced in November he will not seek a third term as attorney general in the upcoming 2018 election. 

Kendall is one of three currently announced Democratic candidates. The other two are state Senator Paul Doyle and Chris Mattei, a former federal prosecutor. Republican state Senator John Shaban is also running. 


Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.

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