Florida groups join legal challenge to Census citizenship query


Two Florida immigrant rights groups have joined a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Commerce Department’s plan to ask people about their citizenship status during the 2020 Census.

The lawsuit, filed June 6 in the Southern District of New York, alleges that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wants to intentionally discriminate against immigrants of color. Additionally, his move violates the Administrative Procedures Act, the suit alleges.

The Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) and the Family Action Network Movement (FANM) now have joined Casa de Maryland, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC Research Institute, the New York Immigration Coalition, and Make the Road New York as plaintiffs.

In a news release, the ACLU of Florida warned the question would constitute “essentially a door-to-door government inquiry into the citizenship status of every member of every household in the nation” and “would sow more fear among immigrant communities, ultimately suppressing Census participation.”

“Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is harmful, not just to immigrant visibility, but to municipalities that stand to lose millions of dollars in federal appropriations,” FLIC executive director Maria Rodriguez said.

“We will not let the political voice of immigrants be undermined by this latest attack. They benefit from our labor, they shouldn’t repress our count,” she said.

“Even without a citizenship question, Haitian-American families in the communities we serve are already underrepresented in the Census,” said Marleine Bastiene, executive director of FANM.

“Given this administration’s hostile and discriminatory actions and attitudes toward immigrants of color – and especially toward Haitians – changing the Census in a way that discourages participation seems like a deliberate attempt to further disenfranchise our communities and stifle our voices.”

Staff Reports


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