By Dr. Robert K. Ross
Those of us who believe in a complete and accurate 2020 Census won a critical victory today when the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the addition of the citizenship question. The court said it was based upon a “contrived” rationale provided by the Commerce Department. While we are happy for this outcome, we are also disappointed the Court did not issue a clear “no” to the use of the citizenship question.
Today’s decision proves this Administration got it wrong yet again by tampering with the integrity of the 2020 Census for the sole purpose of excluding people of color who they have repeatedly denigrated and dismissed. Today, we are proud to stand with our grant partners who believe everyone matters and everyone counts.
With the case returning to the lower court, we understand the fight to make sure everyone is counted is far from over. We, at The California Endowment, remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring a complete count of all those living in the United States regardless of immigration status. We believe that healthy communities require the inclusion and participation of everyone living in them. Therefore, we will be watching the actions of the administration and the courts closely. In the meantime, Census Bureau professionals must be allowed to do their work without further delay and interference; namely, start printing out Census forms. Outreaching and training for a complete count without the citizenship question.
Ultimately, as we know from recent court filings and news reports, the addition of the citizenship question was not incidental. Nor did it arise from a deep concern for the civil or voting rights of the disenfranchised. Rather, the evidence reported implies a much larger strategy of targeted disempowerment of people of color by the Administration, particularly of the growing Latino population, as it continues to push its harmful and disingenuous attack on immigrants. So, the work is not done. The win is not yet fully achieved.
Our message to our brothers and sisters in all communities regardless of status: you contribute to the social, civic, economic well-being of our nation; you matter, you belong, you must and will be counted in the 2020 Census.
Our commitment is that we will not waver in our efforts to achieve a full census count. We must all be resolute and tenacious in seeing that everyone in this country is seen, counted and valued.
We hope individuals and organizations who believe in justice will join us and those on the front lines of this fight to ensure a complete count of all people living in California, and the entire nation.
Our nation’s Founders wisely included an enumeration of all people in the Constitution to prevent the consolidation of power in the hands of the privileged few. This 4th of July, let us celebrate who we truly are— a nation of immigrants. And let us commit to ensuring that our Census continues to reflect that founding vision.
Dr. Robert K. Ross is President and CEO of the California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation.