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California Officials Claim Victory After Trump Administration Drops Census Citizenship Question

Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

California leaders are claiming victory after the Trump administration announced Tuesday it would begin printing 2020 census forms without including a citizenship question.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed one of several lawsuits that culminated in last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that blocked the question, which would have read "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" President Trump had suggested the census could be delayed because of the ruling. 

Becerra said the census can now move forward with a fair and nonpartisan count.

"This is why we fight," Becerra said. "This is why California doesn’t give in. So that our tax dollars return to our states and our communities."

Speaking to CapRadio's Beth Ruyak earlier this week, Becerra said the state could potentially lose billions of dollars in federal funding if too many people living in the state choose not to be counted.

"Regardless of what you're hearing in the news and the shenanigans by the Trump administration, you must count," Becerra told CapRadio . "If you don't want to count, then what you're saying is that you don't want your taxpayer dollars to come back to your state, to your community."

Many California Democrats have argued that a citizenship question could hurt participation in the census with immigrant communities in the state. A report by the Public Policy Institute of California last year estimated that more than 1.6 million residents could be missed if hard to reach populations avoided the count.

That could reduce the state’s congressional seats and electoral college votes. PPIC also found that California receives an estimated $115 billion in federal funding tied to the state’s population count.

State Sen. Richard Pan, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on the 2020 census, said the count is also important for accurately representing the state's population to future generations.

"When we do the census in 2020, we are talking about history," Pan said. "If people are not counted, they are erased from history. Communities that are undercounted are being diminished. That cannot happen."

Copyright 2019 Capital Public Radio