Sifting Through the Lies About the Census Citizenship Question

July 31st, 2018

New Yorkers can submit public comment until August 7th

NEW YORK, NY - Today, the New York Counts 2020 coalition held a press call to provide an update on efforts to combat the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The New York Counts 2020 Coalition is comprised of more than eighty organizations engaged in litigation, community outreach, education, and advocacy.

The Attorney General is suing the administration, and last week a federal judge denied the Trump administration’s request to dismiss New York v. Department of Commerce, thus allowing the lawsuit to move forward.

On June 6th, the New York Immigration Coalition filed a related federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York in conjunction with the ACLU and four other immigrant rights groups. The suit challenges the Trump administration’s plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, by adding an intentional discrimination claim.

The public can submit comments to the Federal Registry here to oppose the question until August 7th.

“New York’s 4.4 million immigrants will be counted regardless of Trump’s attempts to keep us down. New Yorkers are not going to lose a dime or our voices to D.C.” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“As we’ve argued, the Trump administration’s plan to demand citizenship status as part of the Census is unlawful – and it would potentially cause a huge undercount that would threaten billions in federal funds and New York’s fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College,” said New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood. “I’m proud to lead the coalition of Attorneys General, cities and localities, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors in this suit. We won’t stop fighting to ensure that the federal government fulfills its responsibility of a full and fair Census.”

“The limited record produced so far confirms what we've known all along: Adding a citizenship question to the citizenship question isn't about getting an accurate count of citizens and it certainly isn't about better Voting Rights Act enforcement. It's a badly disguised effort to marginalize immigrants of color and their communities by diminishing their political representation and fair share of public resources. New Yorkers continue to stand firmly against this act of intentional discrimination,” said Perry Grossman, Senior Staff Attorney at NYCLU Voting Rights Project.

“We need to knock this untested question off the Census survey. Otherwise, it will depress response rates and reduce the accuracy of what we know about ourselves and our communities. The census is a pillar of our democracy and if we get it wrong it will distort political power and the funding of our communities for the next decade,” said Shamier Settle, co-chair of New York Counts 2020 Communications Committee; Policy Analyst, Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Right now, the Census Bureau is holding a public comment period―asking for our feedback on whether or not the citizenship question should be added to the Census. We must encourage people to submit a comment. We’ve created an infographic to make it easier for people to understand the Census and are translating it into different languages. This is our chance to have our voices heard,” said Christine Zhuang, co-chair of New York Counts 2020 Communications Committee; Communications Manager, Charles B. Wang Community Health Clinic.

"This administration does little to hide its intention to make all Latino immigrants vanish. Every undocumented immigrant is a priority for deportation; every documented immigrant who commits a minor infraction is under threat of deportation; and even naturalized citizens are subject to reopening their grant of citizenship. Inserting an unnecessary and untested citizenshipquestion into the decennial census at this late date is obviously part of the strategy to make us disappear. And it undermines the American value of inclusivity, setting the country back by decades. It has to end here,” said Jorge Vasquez, Associate Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. 

"An accurate census ensures our state and democracy are working as it should. The citizenship question is a purely politically motivated barrier designed to reduce response rates that will disproportionately affect immigrant communities. An undercount in the 2020 Census could mean the loss of billions in federal funding for the public schools, hospitals, and housing services immigrant communities need, and MinKwon will do everything in its power, working with our allies and partners, to ensure the government conducts the 2020 Census fairly and our community members are counted." said John Park, Executive Director of MinKwon Center for Community Action.

"The citizenship question will hit the low-income immigrant communities of New York the hardest. These communities endure factors and attitudes beyond their control, are underserved and already face many barriers to opportunities. The question will adversely affect their participation in the census which in turn will result into diminished resources and opportunities for them that place them on the fringes of society." said Rajju Malla-Dhakal, Executive Director of BACDYS.

"54% of Chinatown residents are foreign born. Many will be reluctant or afraid to answer a questionnaire that asks are 'Are you a U.S. citizen?'. We will end up with an inaccurate count of the number of residents living in our community. The citizenship question does not belong in the decennial census questionnaire" said Mae Lee, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association.

“An accurate count provides our communities with the funding and resources that they need to be independent and productive members of society." said Noha Mahmoud, Digital Organizer of Arab American Association of New York.

“The Census will drive how Asian Americans, immigrants and people of color are represented and resourced for an entire decade, so if we want it to be done fairly and accurately, we must remain vigilant about fighting against the citizenship question.” said Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the Chinese-American Planning Council.

In addition to holding public forums and panels to educate immigrant New Yorkers on the 2020 Census, the coalition released a series of information graphics in several languages.


On April 3rd, the New York Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit– New York v. Dept of Commerce– in the Southern District of New York to stop the Commerce Department from demanding citizenship information on the 2020 Census. The lawsuit argues that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census violates the law and reverses seven decades of precedent without a factual basis.

Currently 19 Attorneys General, a number of cities and counties, and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors have joined the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit. On May 25, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Furman on July 3rd stated it was “unlikely he would dismiss the case in its entirety” and granted the AG’s office request for additional discovery, resulting in the federal government recently releasing new documents.

On July 26th, Judge Furman ruled against the Trump administration’s request to dismiss New York v. Department of Commerce, and will allow the lawsuit to move forward.

On June 6th, the New York Immigration Coalition filed a related federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York in conjunction with the ACLU and four other immigrant rights groups. The suit challenges the Trump administration’s plan to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, by adding an intentional discrimination claim.

The New York Immigration Coalition, together with over eighty partners, has formed New York Counts 2020, a coalition to counter the expected impact of the citizenship question on the 2020 census. The addition of a citizenship question will stoke unnecessary fear in immigrant communities and could result in a significant undercount, particularly already under-counted racial and ethnic minority groups. With immigrants constituting nearly 1 out of 4 New Yorkers, an undercount in the 2020 Census will have catastrophic consequences – costing all New Yorkers political power and billions of dollars in federal funding for key services.

The New York Counts 2020 coalition includes:

Academy of Medical and Public Health Services


ADL and 67th Precinct Clergy Council

African Services Committee

American Immigration Lawyers Association - New York Chapter

Arab American Association of New York

Asian American Federation

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Association for Better New York

Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)

Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS)

Bronx Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc

Brooklyn Public Library

Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York

Catholic Migration Services

Center for Law and Social Justice, Medgar Evers College

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center


Chinese-American Planning Council

Chinese Progressive Association

Christopher Rose Community Empowerment Campaign

Cidadão Global

Citizens' Committee for Children of New York

Citizens Union Foundation

Common Cause NY

Community Legal Advocates of NY

Community Voices Heard

Cooper Square Committee N-NORC

Church Women United in New York State

Desis Rising Up and Moving

Digital Equity Laboratory, The New School

Emerald Island Immigration Center

Engage New York

Fiscal Policy Institute



Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.

Health and Welfare Council of Long Island

Human Services Council

Indivisible Nation BK

Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc.

Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing

Japanese American Social Services, Inc.

Jewish Community Relations Council

Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Literacy Assistance Center

LiUNA Local 78


MinKwon Center for Community Action

Mixteca Organization, Inc.

Movement for Justice in El Barrio

NAACP-New York Branch

NALEO Educational Fund

New America

New York Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

New York City Employment and Training Coalition

New York Housing Conference

New York Immigration Coalition

New York Legal Assistance Group

New York State Council on Children and Families


Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson


Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

Planned Parenthood of New York City

Pratt Center for Community Development

Russian Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx, Inc.


Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester

Sunnyside Community Services

SUNY Rockefeller Institute of Government

Tiny Panther Consulting

Treatment Action Group

Queens College, CUNY/Social Explorer

Queens Library

UJA-Federation of New York

United Neighborhood Houses

Vision Urbana, Inc.

Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County

Wayne Action for Racial Justice

Worker’s Center of Central New York

YMCA of Greater New York

Young Invincibles