NY Counts 2020 Coalition, Elected Officials Rally For Fair and Accurate Census 2020 as SCOTUS Hearing on Citizenship Question Begins

April 24th, 2019

NEW YORK, NY – Today, as the Supreme Court of the United States hears arguments in the case The Department of Commerce v. New York State et al., to determine whether the Trump administration can include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, advocates and electeds gathered to discuss the litigation and promote the importance of an accurate Census count for New York State.

Elected officials and community-based organizations called on Governor Cuomo to invest an additional $20M and Mayor de Blasio to invest $40M in 2020 Census outreach efforts to ensure immigrants and all hard-to-count communities are included in Census 2020. As part of the SFY 2019-20 budget, Governor Cuomo and the Legislature approved a $20M investment in outreach efforts—only half of the amount that experts found is necessary to conduct an accurate Census count.

With the threat of Trump’s citizenship question and the potential loss of two Congressional seats and billions in Federal revenue, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio must allocate more funding to ensure a fair and accurate count of all New York residents.

“Regardless of what the Supreme Court rules on the citizenship question, the impact of this proposal is already being felt across the country, and especially here in New York City. After a year talking about how damaging this question would be, and two years of heightened ICE raids, family separations, and deportations, we need a robust outreach operation to count every New Yorker. The New York Counts 2020 Coalition - as our partners on the ground and with reach across the City - stands ready. All we need are the funds. I’m calling on the City and State to invest the maximum possible to ensure we get this right,” said City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration, and co-chair of the Council’s 2020 Census Task Force.

“California has already allocated more than $100M dollars for Census outreach, as a means of safeguarding its share of federal funding and political power. That’s why New York Counts 2020 is asking for the State to add an additional $20M in state funding and NYC to allocate at least $40M in City funding, so that we can stave off the loss of billions in Federal funding and two Congressional seats,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“The Arab-American Family Support Center is committed to ensuring an accurate count in Census 2020. The census will impact legislation, leadership, funding, and resource allocations over the next ten years. Arab, Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian and other marginalized immigrant communities cannot afford to lose already limited resources. As an organization that intimately understands the extent of community needs, this matters deeply to us,” said Rawaa Nancy Albilal, President and CEO of the Arab-American Family Support Center.

“There is much about the census that we cannot control. What we can control is making sure we have adequate funding to count all New Yorkers. We commend the New York City Council for their proposed $40 million in census funding and urge the Mayor to support their request. These funds will be used to make sure New York’s most vulnerable communities are properly counted,” said Rachel Bloom, Policy Director, Citizens Union.

“Mandating a citizenship question on the census would be disastrous in today’s climate. It will intimidate those in hard-to-count communities, like Black New Yorkers, from completing a census form, due to fear of deportation or increased racially motivated scrutiny. An inaccurate census count will further penalize vulnerable New Yorkers of African descent, by locking them out of much needed funding and political representation for another decade. This is in addition to the very real risk of losing additional congressional representatives in Washington. For the sake of vulnerable communities throughout this country, we call on the Supreme Court to eliminate the citizenship question and to choose people over politics,” said Lurie Daniel-Favors, Esq. General Counsel for the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College.

“Large number of low-income immigrants live in culturally and linguistically isolated groups. This makes them hardest to reach. Massive outreach through community based organizations (who they trust) is the only way to reach them even in normal situation. It is more so with the citizenship question issue. Funding outreach program is crucially important to ensure NY does not lose federal funds and congressional seats,” said Rajju Malla Dhakal, Executive Director of BACDYS.

”As a South Asian organization that largely organizes the undocumented community, the citizenship question on the census is a big concern for us! This question is a direct attempt by the Trump administration to attack our immigrant community and our city by hurting our representation and our federal funding," said Kazi Fouzia, Director of Organizing, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM). 

“The Census is an opportunity for everyone in the United States to be counted and communities to be apportioned much needed services. The addition of the U.S. citizenship status question to the 2020 Census will intimidate immigrant communities into not participating. NMIC stands with all immigrant communities and marginalized groups; and ask everyone to become "Census Ambassadors" to ensure every single person is counted. New York State cannot stand to lose resources while communities are being silenced,” said Maria Lizardo, Executive Director of NMIC.

“The information that the Census collects is the most important data that New York City will have about its residents for the next 10 years. More than ever before, trusted community voices will be needed to help build bridges to maximize participation in the Census. After listening to the outreach plans that community organizations from the different boroughs and neighborhoods have, I am convinced that allocating $20 million for community based organizations is the least we can do to for our future,” said Shamier Settle, Policy Analyst at Fiscal Policy Institute.

"The NAACP has a longstanding policy against racial profiling and strongly supports the rights of immigrants. We have opposed the Census Question from the start and reject any efforts meant to circumvent the U.S. Constitution. As a nation, we are obligated to count every person residing in the United States at the time of the decennial census. Therefore, The Brooklyn NAACP is committed to deploying its network of organizers to educate our hard to count communities to ensure that all communities are properly resourced and represented,” said L. Joy Williams, President, NAACP-Brooklyn.