President Trump’s war on nonwhite peoples in this country rages on unabated. Our xenophobic, demagogic leader’s anti-immigrant rhetoric hasn’t grown an ounce tamer since he’s taken office, and in some areas has grown far worse.
Trump is still calling for his pointless, hateful border wall along the Mexican border and ICE continues to round up innocent undocumented immigrants, ripping families apart and deporting law-abiding, taxpaying, patriotic community members.
He needlessly ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, betraying hundreds of thousands of noncitizen Americans who have lived here since their childhood, and continues to try to pin the blame for it on Democrats.
His white nationalist policies are the most repugnant, destructive elements of his agenda and one of the prime reasons he must be voted out of office. The longer he remains in power, the further back into the past we slip.
Now, he’s launched a new assault on immigrants. The New York Times reports that Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has decided that the 2020 census will ask respondents to state their citizenship status, claiming it’s necessary in order to achieve “complete and accurate census block level data.”
In reality, it’s almost certainly a decision aimed at giving ICE a new tool to target and round up undocumented immigrants for deportation. The decennial census hasn’t specifically asked about citizenship since 1950, although some smaller censuses still do.
The announcement met an immediate challenge in California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who intends to sue the administration over the decision. The Times explains one of the sharpest general criticisms of Ross’s decision:
“Critics of the change and experts in the Census Bureau itself have said that, amid a fiery immigration debate, the inclusion of a citizenship question could prompt immigrants who are in the country illegally not to respond. That would result in a severe undercount of the population — and, in turn, faulty data for government agencies and outside groups that rely on the census. The effects would also bleed into the redistricting of the House and state legislatures in the next decade.”
In other words, while Ross claims that the addition of citizenship status to the census will lead to a more “complete and accurate” count, it’s more likely to create even less accurate data than what’s currently being collected. With that in mind, there really is no other explanation for this move except as a component of Trump’s deportation campaign.
If Ross and Trump are successful in this attempt, it would have lasting effects outstretching the president’s tenure. A new census won’t be held until 2020, which means a great deal of policy, economic estimates, and civic planning could be based on deeply flawed, obliquely racist data. It’s unacceptable and more Attorney Generals need to step forward and follow Becerra’s example.