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California to Battle Trump Over Citizenship Census Question

1:38 PM PDT on March 28, 2018

Xavier Becerra, California's Attorney General, is suing the Trump administration for moving to reinstate a question on citizenship status to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau questionnaire.

The move is ratcheting up of tensions and talk of political "war" between progressive California and the hard-right politics of President Trump.

Becerra argues that adding a citizenship question is unconstitutional, and said in a statement that it is an "attempt to disrupt an accurate Census count." Federal funds for everything from schools to housing are allocated according to Census data.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday, but Attorney General Becerra tweeted that it was filed Monday night. He also tweeted an image of the lawsuit Tuesday morning.

Here's the lawsuit we filed last night against @realdonaldtrump's #census2020 decision. #California simply has too much to lose for us to allow his Administration to botch this obligation! #citizenship

— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) March 27, 2018

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Monday that it is reinstating the question to help administer the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

The defendants currently named in the lawsuit are Secretary of the Department of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Acting Director of the U.S. Census Ron Jarmin and the U.S. Census Bureau. More defendants may be added later, Becerra's office said.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce: "Having citizenship data at the census block level will permit more effective enforcement of the VRA, and Secretary Ross determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government purpose outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts."

The Attorney General disagreed with Secretary Ross and said the question would lead to inaccurate counts, as undocumented people would be afraid to answer the question.

"During World War II, the federal govt. used #Census data to identify Japanese-American families for internment," Attorney General Becerra wrote on Twitter. "But the #Trump Administration has failed to learn again from history. They’ve failed to learn the consequences of scaring people... #2020Census."

Latino organizations denounced the change, and promised actions to stop it.

RELATED: Salvadoran L.A. Stands Up for Temporary Protected Status

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