Attorney General Becerra: California Communities Join Lawsuit Over Addition of Citizenship Question on 2020 Census
Cities of Fremont, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, and Stockton, Along With County of Los Angeles, Join California’s Lawsuit
Local Communities Depend on Census Numbers to Determine the Need for Critical Services Including Disaster Relief, Infrastructure, Schools, and Public Health and Safety
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced today that local partners have joined California’s lawsuit against the Trump Administration over its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. An accurate population count of all individuals – regardless of citizenship status – is mandated every ten years under the U.S. Constitution. Census counts are indispensable to local and state governments as they determine the need and funding for critical services. Among those services are disaster relief, public health, police and fire protection, school, transportation, and housing development.
“California’s fight to secure an accurate census of our nation’s vibrant and diverse population has just been bolstered by our cities and counties. We welcome their partnership and look forward to working together,”said Attorney General Becerra. “The Constitution requires that, every ten years, we count every person in our country, regardless of citizenship status. Together, we will see to it that this sacred responsibility is met by our federal government.”
Filed on March 26, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, California’s lawsuit alleges that including a citizenship question in the 2020 Census violates Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which requires the “actual Enumeration” of all people in each state every ten years. The suit also alleges that the Trump Administration’s last-minute action violates Administrative Procedure Act’s prohibition against “arbitrary and capricious” agency action.
The following cities and counties have joined California’s lawsuit:
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Fremont
- City of Los Angeles
- City of Long Beach
- City of Oakland
- City of Stockton
“Since the 2016 election, I have authored and passed 24 motions at the Board of Supervisors to defend, protect, and fight for our immigrant communities,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. “LA County stands in solidarity with all immigrants and the State of California in fighting back against the Trump Administration’s unlawful decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Undercounting our most vulnerable populations is nothing less than a civil rights and human rights violation, and LA County will do everything in our power to protect the voices and Constitutional rights of all of our residents.”
"The City of Fremont is joining the State of California in its litigation to support a fair and accurate census. Given Fremont's diversity, with a significant portion of our community born outside the United States, we have first-hand experience in supporting the Federal census to insure all members of our community are counted," said Fremont City Attorney Harvey Levine. "The plan to revive the Citizenship question, not used since 1950, is bound to cause an undercount of those living in our City. With Federal programs relying on the Census count, our community will be cut off from funding intended for the most needy and vulnerable among us."
“The City of Los Angeles has an obligation to ensure the census accurately reflects our diverse population,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “We will not stand idly by as the Trump Administration brazenly attempts to suppress the count of our residents, and deprive our City of the federal resources and political representation to which we're entitled.”
“Every Californian counts — and Los Angeles will fight alongside our friends to make sure that the Census is fair, full, and accurately reflects the incredible diversity of our state," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti."We take this fight to the courts today, but any effort to suppress participation only strengthens our determination to do everything possible, at the local level, to ensure that all Angelenos are counted in 2020."
"Long Beach is proud to join other cities and the state of California," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. "We are seeking protection for our residents’ rights to an accurate census."
“It is no secret that the Trump administration is dead set on reducing the voting power and federal funding for states like California and cities like Oakland whose residents overwhelmingly did not cast their votes for the current occupant of the White House,” said Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “The addition of a citizenship question clearly is a pretext for achieving that goal. Faced with the loss of the popular vote and a country that has an increasing number of immigrants and people of color, this outlaw administration is attempting to undercount and disenfranchise diverse communities like Oakland and California.”
“One of Stockton’s great assets is our diversity. Approximately, 26% of our community is foreign born. With these new census rules, we are telling a quarter of our population that they don’t count and that’s not fair,” said Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs. “We refuse to go back to the days when people in our community stayed hidden in the shadows. A full and accurate counting of all residents, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or immigration status is paramount to the census and vital to Stockton.”
Attorney General Becerra has been a vocal opponent of the Trump Administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. On February 12, 2018, he co-led a coalition of 19 Attorneys General in sending a letter to Secretary Ross, cautioning that a citizenship question would violate the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes. On March 26, 2018, Attorney General Becerra – along with Secretary of State Alex Padilla – published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting how high the stakes are for California.
A copy of the amended complaint is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.