New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released a statement explaining that President Trump’s administration is planning to “weaponize” the 2020 first-ever digital census.
The census is done every 10 years to count the population of people per county, per state, nationwide. However, the census aids in the redrawing of district lines based on populous, and thus allocating funds to more concentrated areas of each state and changing the number of seats in the House of Representatives per state.
“For once, President Trump has listened to reason and the facts, and dropped this cynical attempt to weaponize one of the underpinnings of our very democracy,” Gov. Cuomo (D) said in a press release. “By ending his bid to add this blatantly discriminatory question to an objective process, we can continue to do our work to ensure every New Yorker is counted and received fair representation in Washington.”
New York State is traditionally Democratic, as that is how the state voted in all national elections since 1998. This is important because the Trump administration is pulling for a Republican reign over the House of Representatives. The census and the House of Representatives go hand in hand, as each state gets a certain number of representatives in the House based off of the populous of that state, in order to follow the equity of representation of each state as outlined in the Constitution.
This past year, the Trump administration fought to offer a citizenship question on the census, however the Supreme Court vetoed the idea. The citizenship question would scare away any non-citizens from participating in the census, even if they were legally in the country. This would make the count less accurate, as New York State is heavily concentrated with immigrants, as the state itself has over 800 languages spoken within it.
One of the “ground troops” deployed to go door-to-door in our part of Ulster County to help fill out the census forms in 2000 was New Paltz resident Frances Marion Platt. Platt explains that she was going through personal issues and was between full-time jobs, so she took the gig.
“It was hard, low-paid, entry-level work, but it did feel sort of cool to be a tiny cog in a historical process,” Platt said. “Even back then there were some people– not only undocumented immigrants– who were very suspicious and not eager to cooperate.”
The Trump Administration insisted in using citizenship data in the 2020 Census, and has maintained this ideal even though the question was removed. The Complete Count Commission, local governments, and community-based organizations are committed to influencing these hard-to-count households to complete their questionnaire and feel comfortable in the process.
One of the Complete Count Commissions, New York State Counts 2020, is working with counties throughout the state on developing complete count strategies.
Senior advisor of New York Counts 2020, Jeff Wice, also the head of the New York Census and Redistricting Institute at New York Law School in New York City, explained the use of records to count non-citizens in New York.
“The citizenship question issue is the Census Bureau is attempting to put together. Non-citizen foreign born numbers, or just non-citizen numbers based on administrative records,” Wice said. “You don’t know yet whether the Census Bureau is going to be able to actually pull that off, but in New York State the redrawing of legislative district boundaries must use total population.”
In 1969, the New York Constitution was amended to require that redistricting be done based on the total number of persons. In turn this means that redistricting is done based on the entire population of a state, but if Trump attempts to scare away non-citizens, New York will indefinitely lose representation.
“New York has always been and will continue to be a beacon of hope for all, and we will never allow this administration to get away with their hateful agenda,” Cuomo said.