California Democrats are worried that they might lose a Congressional seat because President Donald Trump wants to actually count the number of U.S. citizens in the upcoming 2020 census.
In December, the Department of Justice requested to add a question on citizenship to the next census in a letter to Dr. Ron Jarmin, the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and now Democrats are anxious about the implementation of the proposed changes.
According to Politico, Democrats are worried that Trump’s policies and the addition of a new question could keep California’s immigrant population from participating in the decennial count.
An undercount could lose the state billions of dollars in federal funding, and even one of its 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The census count is used to allocate over $675 billion a year in federal money, according to the U.S. Census website.
House seats are distributed every 10 years, and California was already on the verge of losing a seat in 2020 based on the population formula used by Congress.
California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed spending over $40 million to fund the state’s own census-related outreach efforts to avoid scaring off the immigrant population and to avoid an undercount.
“There’s a lot of fear” about the census count, Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc. said to Politico. “The state is starting to get together resources, because it does have an actual direct impact … on state revenues if we have a severe undercount.”
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla added that “The citizenship question is just the latest red flag — maybe one of the biggest — but just the latest red flag.”
Democrats and voting-rights advocates were already nervous about census participation because of the Trump administration’s view on immigrants.
“It’s already a toxic environment coming forward from D.C.,” Daniel Zingale from The California Endowment told Politico. “When you add up all of these things — the abandonment of competent leadership, the proposed citizenship question, the hostile environment toward a state like ours and our diverse population, it is perceived here as a less than act of good faith coming from Washington, D.C.”
Many Republicans and anti-immigration groups consider the undocumented immigrants in states like California an unfair advantage for Democrats.
“If 50 percent of the illegal alien population resides in California and we’re not differentiating them in the census and we’re basing apportionment in the census on those figures, then some states are losing representation while others are overrepresented,” Chris Chmielenski, director of content and activism at NumbersUSA, said, according to The Atlantic.
Rep. Steve King, R-IA, also expressed his support for the addition of the question.
“In districts like Maxine Waters, who only needs about 40,000 votes to get reelected in her district and it takes me over 120,000 in mine because hers is loaded with illegals and mine only has a few.”
The Census Bureau said in a statement, according to The Atlantic, that it is “evaluating the request from the U.S. Department of Justice and will process it in the same way we have historically dealt with such requests.”
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