Udall, Heinrich: Census Should Stay On Schedule, Omit Citizenship Question

Senators Urge Secretary Ross To Print Census Materials Without Citizenship Question, Avoid Delays

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 28, 2019) – Today U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined a group of 27 senators in calling for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to meet the administration’s previously set deadline of July 1 to begin printing materials for the 2020 Census and move forward without adding a politically motivated question about citizenship.

Their call comes a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s rationale for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.” President Trump also announced on Twitter yesterday that he had asked his lawyers to delay the Census.

“By continuing to pursue the citizenship question, you will further delay and jeopardize the Census Bureau’s ability to conduct a full, fair, and accurate decennial census as required by the U.S. Constitution and the Census Act,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to stop all efforts to add a citizenship question and allow the Census Bureau to proceed with preparation for a 2020 census without a citizenship question on the questionnaire.”

The letter was led by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), and in addition to Udall and Heinrich was signed by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

The letter follows a May visit to New Mexico by U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham. Udall and Heinrich invited Director Dillingham to New Mexico for an opportunity to meet with various stakeholders to discuss how the Bureau is taking adequate steps to count underrepresented communities, and address the unique data collection challenges in the state.

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Ross:

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Department of Commerce v. New York State, we urge you to uphold the rule of law and respect the Court’s decision. By continuing to pursue the citizenship question, you will further delay and jeopardize the Census Bureau’s ability to conduct a full, fair, and accurate decennial census as required by the U.S. Constitution and the Census Act. We urge you to stop all efforts to add a citizenship question and allow the Census Bureau to proceed with preparation for a 2020 census without a citizenship question on the questionnaire.

As a constitutionally mandated activity, the decennial census is a cornerstone of our democracy. We have one chance to get the count right and must complete the task on time to meet constitutional and legal requirements for congressional apportionment and redistricting. The 2020 Census is less than half a year away, and any unnecessary delay in operations would impact the ability of the Census Bureau to count every person in our country. We urge you to remove the citizenship question, and we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,