Department of Justice admits conversations between Secretary of Commerce Ross and Steve Bannon in Census lawsuit discovery
NEW YORK, NY - This afternoon, the Department of Justice (DOJ) admitted that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross spoke with Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist, about the decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. In a new DOJ court filing in the lawsuit State of New York et al. v Department of Commerce, Secretary Ross suddenly “recalls” the conversation, after previously claiming he was “not aware” of any contact with the White House. Two days ago the Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction, blocking the lower court-ordered depositions of Secretary Ross and DOJ official John Gore.
“Trump wants to distract us with Kanye West in the White House, while news leaks that his Commerce Secretary conspired with a white supremacist to rig the Census,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “It’s obvious that the administration hates immigrants and wants to deny big, blue states federal resources and political power by undercounting them in the Census. This is a perversion of the Constitution for partisan gain and a direct attack on anyone who doesn’t meet Steve Bannon’s warped approval.”
Steve Bannon, also the former Executive Chairman of right-wing publication Breitbart News and the executive producer of the film Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration, is widely known as a white supremacist and an anti-semite.
The New York Immigration Coalition filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of New York in conjunction with the ACLU and four other immigrant rights groups against the administration’s attempt to target immigrant communities, challenging the addition of the citizenship question by adding an intentional discrimination claim. The lawsuit argues that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census violates the Constitution and reverses seven decades of precedent without a factual basis.
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 States plus D.C., 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 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.
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.
The New York Immigration Coalition, together with over eighty partners, has formed New York Counts 2020, a coalition to maximize participation in the census and therefore counter the expected impact of the citizenship question if added to the 2020 census. If included, 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 Communities Together
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
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.
Goddard Riverside Community Center
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
Literacy Assistance Center
LiUNA Local 78
LSA Family Health Service
MinKwon Center for Community Action
Mixteca Organization, Inc.
Movement for Justice in El Barrio
NAACP-New York Branch
NALEO Educational Fund
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
New York Portuguese American Leadership Conference
Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow
Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts
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
The Door - A Center for Alternatives
Tiny Panther Consulting
Treatment Action Group
Queens College, CUNY/Social Explorer
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