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For Immediate Release

Press Release

DOJ Reveals Bannon Behind Census Citizenship Question

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


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.


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


LatinoJustice PRLDEF


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 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


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


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


The New York Immigration Coalition aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all.  The NYIC promotes immigrants’ full civic participation, fosters their leadership, and provides a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.

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