House Democrats proposed a measure Tuesday that would block a Trump administration push to diminish the political power of immigrant communities. The measure was part of a sprawling coronavirus response bill that the House could vote on later this week.
Specifically, the measure would block the Census Bureau from releasing the type of citizenship data that would allow states to fundamentally change the way that legislative maps are drawn. The change — excluding non-citizens from the count used for redistricting — would boost the electoral advantages of white, Republican-leading voters, to the detriment of more diverse, Democratic-leaning populations.
That redistricting overhaul appears to have motivated the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. When the Supreme Court blocked the administration from doing so, President Trump announced an executive order directing the Census Bureau to assemble citizenship data based on records already held by the government. The executive order referenced the desire by some states to draw districts based on the numbers of citizens, rather than based on total populations. At least one red state is already trying to push through such a change.
The Census Bureau, under Trump’s directive, has been working on a way to release the citizenship data alongside the data states use for redistricting that is produced by the decennial count.
The Democratic provision taking aim at Trump’s executive order was tucked in among several census related provisions the House is proposing in its new coronavirus response bill.
The Census Bureau is currently grappling with how the pandemic has scrambled its 2020 count operations and is asking for Congress’ assistance in moving back statutory deadlines that it is facing.
When the Census Bureau requested the deadline changes, civil rights groups called upon Congress to block Trump’s citizenship data executive order while it considered the bureau’s request.
The Senate does not at the moment seem interested in taking up additional COVID-19 response legislation, and sure enough Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) derided the overall House bill — which spans nearly 2,000 pages — as “aspirational legislation” not designed to “deal with reality.”
Read the House bill’s provision addressing the citizenship data release below: