Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the law when he attempted to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census, a federal judge found Wednesday. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

As Second Judge Rejects Census Citizenship Question, Trump's Backup Plan to Count Non-Citizens Exposed

"The administration's determination to weaponize the Census Bureau is really something."

Julia Conley

In the wake of the second legal defeat of President Donald Trump's plan to count all non-citizens in the 2020 census, new reporting reveals the Census Bureau has been secretly working with Homeland Security officials to develop a new method of sharing immigration status data in order to identify individuals and target communities nationwide.

As the Associated Press reported Thursday, the Census Bureau has been working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for weeks to obtain information about the legal status of millions of immigrants.

The AP's report followed the second federal court ruling against Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg rejected the administration's move to include the question, saying Ross did not provide a factual basis for the move and that the secretary broke the law when he ordered his top aides to find a rationale for adding the question to the survey.  

The Commerce Department, Seeborg wrote in his ruling, violated the Administrative Procedures Act by mounting "an effort to concoct a rationale bearing no plausible relation to the real reason, whatever that may be, underlying the decision."

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which brought the case to court, applauded the decision on social media.

Immigrant and civil rights groups warn that the inclusion of a citizenship question, which has been left off the census since 1950, would prevent Latinx households from filling out the census amid fears of Trump's anti-immigration agenda. Critics say an inaccurate census could then result in further under-representation of those communities in Washington.

"Judge Seeborg found incontrovertible evidence that the addition of the citizenship question would drive down participation by non-citizens in the 2020 Census," Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn said in a statement. "This is reprehensible, undemocratic, and in defiance of the goal of the census as outlined in the United States Constitution. The attempt to add of the citizenship question to the 2020 census is underhanded politics at its very worst."

"The news of this proposed plan will surely send shockwaves through immigrant communities across the country. This new development raises even more questions about the motivations behind this untested citizenship question and Secretary Ross better be ready to answer them." —Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.)Seeborg's decision came two months after a federal judge in New York issued a similar ruling. The Supreme Court is considering both lower courts' rulings and is expected to hand down its own assessment by June.

But, as AP reported, the Trump administration began exploring how the Census Bureau could obtain citizenship information as the New York court's ruling was announced.

The bureau and DHS began collaborating in January on their pending agreement, under which DHS would share share noncitizens' full names, addresses, birth dates and places, Social Security numbers, and alien registration numbers.

"What's going on here is they are trying to circumvent the need for a citizenship question by using data collected by another agency for a different purpose," Jeramie Scott, an attorney at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told AP.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) said he planned to question Ross about the plan when the commerce secretary testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform next week.

"The news of this proposed plan will surely send shockwaves through immigrant communities across the country," Gomez told the AP. "This new development raises even more questions about the motivations behind this untested citizenship question and Secretary Ross better be ready to answer them."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Right-Wing Justices Should Be Impeached for Lying Under Oath, Says Ocasio-Cortez

"We have a responsibility to protect our democracy," said the New York Democrat. "That includes holding those in power who violate the law accountable."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·


'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo