Why a Houston lawmaker is helping sue the U.S. census as a plaintiff
Published in Houston Chronicle on
Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, is joining a lawsuit against the U.S. 2020 census question asking about citizenship.
A Houston lawmaker has joined the nationwide fight to remove a question slated for the 2020 U.S. Census.
On Friday, State Representative Gene Wu announced that he named himself as a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The nine-word question— "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"— has been criticized for discouraging immigrants from participating in the upcoming census and if answered, providing sensitive information to the government in an era that aggressively seeks to crackdown and deport undocumented immigrants.
"It's a very obvious attempt to scare a population into not filling out the form," Wu, who represents Houston's Gulfton area, told Chron.com. "It's not subtle in the least bit."
I have joined, as a named plaintiff, the @AAAJ_AAJC Lawsuit Challenging Addition of Citizenship Question to 2020 Census.
The citizenship question will directly harm my community which is one of the largest immigrant and refugee communities in Texas.https://www.advancingjustice-aajc.org/publication/lawsuit-challenging-addition-citizenship-question-2020-census#.WxFYXow01fE.twitter …
Changes to the US Census Bureau were announced in March. Shortly after, a dozen states vying to remove the question which had not used in a census since 1950 sued the government. By April, several lawsuits against the census had been filed.
One of the lawsuits currently in play, and the one recently joined by Wu, is spearheaded by 21 organizations, many of them nonprofits and civil rights advocacy groups.
"I represent one of the largest immigrant populations in the entire state," Wu said. "I represent one of the largest refugee populations in the entire nation."
"We have people from all around the world, people who are here legally, people without papers, people who are here under asylum, people who are citizens who are immigrants," he said.
"They're very distrustful of the current U.S. government, even the ones who are citizens," Wu said. "I think this is a very boldfaced attempt to scare them into not filling out the census paperwork."
According to Wu, unfilled censuses are a big problem for his constituents since it impacts redistricting and funding for federal and state programs.
"Census results are used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, to draw political district boundaries for federal, state and local offices, and to direct billions of dollars in federal spending," explained the Houston Chronicle's Editorial Board in March. "If large numbers of immigrants don’t answer the census questionnaire in 2020, it would lead to disastrous consequences for places with large numbers of immigrants."
"The citizenship question is bad for the census, bad for the country and especially bad for Texas," wrote the Editorial Board. "That our state’s elected officials are cheering on its adoption is shameful."