Ferguson to sue Trump administration over Census question about citizenship

SEATTLE — Washington will join other states that are suing the Trump administration over a question that will appear on the 2020 census.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced this afternoon that he will join California and other states in an effort to stop the census from asking whether people are citizens.

More than 80 percent of Americans get the short form of the census, which hasn't included a question on citizenship since 1950.

Now, King County leaders say the Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question is part of its targeting of immigrants and the communities that support them.

Omar Aguirre was a census taker in 2010.

“It's going to be more, more difficult (in 2020). Not only undocumented people but, like other immigrants, other people who are just living here with whatever documentation.”

The U.S. Constitution requires congressional districts to be allocated based on the number of people, not the number of citizens.

King County figures show roughly 400,000 foreign-born residents in the county today, and about half of them are not citizens.

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That's why critics believe frightening people away with a citizenship question will hurt King County.

“Leading us to an undercount of noncitizen immigrants and their citizen family members,” said Estela Ortega, director of Seattle’s El Centro de la Raza.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said, “If this census undercounts residents it is entirely possible that this state or California or several other states, that coincidentally did not support President Trump’s election, might be shorted a congressional district.”

But President Trump and his team believe the citizenship question is a necessary one.

“We've contained this question that's provided data that's necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters, specifically to help us comply with the Voter Rights Act,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

King County Council Member Rod Dembowski responded, “To help enforce the Voting Rights Act? Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who made a career out of tearing down that act? It's not believable."

The federal government conducts other surveys that ask about citizenship, but those surveys are not used to determine congressional districts.

Ferguson said he will join a multistate coalition to fight the census question in court.

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