Utah Hispanic Legislators Condemn Citizenship Question in Census

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2018

Contact:    
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

Utah Hispanic Legislators Condemn Citizenship Question in Census

SALT LAKE CITY – Today Utah Hispanic legislators strongly condemned the Trump Administration’s decision to include a question regarding the U.S. Citizenship status of respondents of the 2020 Census.

Rep. Chavez-Houck, Rep. Mark Wheatley, Rep. Angela Romero, and Sen. Luz Escamilla echoed the message of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) of which they are all members.  The organization represents the voices of more than 400 Hispanic state legislators from across the country, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which also was highly critical of the inclusion of this question.

“The people of our state demand that all of us be counted in the Census, just like the Constitution explicitly states,” said Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Salt Lake City D-24. “If this decision is allowed to occur, likely 100,000 Utah residents will opt not to participate. This could have terrible consequences for Utah such as skewing our reapportionment planning, losing out on long-term federal funding, and hurting morale for Utahns overall. We will not allow political interference and racial bias to put into question the accuracy of our state’s population count.”

This year the Utah legislature passed HCR12, "Concurrent Resolution Calling upon Congress to Assure a Complete and Accurate Census," which was sponsored by Rep. Chavez-Houck.

“This is blatant political tampering with our nation’s critical population counting process,” said Rep. Angela Romero, Salt Lake City D-26, and the First Vice President of NHCSL. “I join NHCSL in calling on the Administration to reverse course, and if they ignore the pleas from experts around the country, then Congress has a duty to protect the integrity of our Census.”

As Co-Chair of the NHCSL Latino Voting Task Force, Rep. Chavez-Houck sponsored a census resolution earlier this year which states that “…according to the latest studies from the US Census Bureau, at least 132 Federal programs use Census data to distribute more than $675 billion in Federal funds annually.” The resolution further reiterates NHCSL’s collective belief that “14th Amendment to the Constitution requires that all persons, regardless of race, citizenship or legal status, be counted in the decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.”

“We are outraged that in the 21st Century the federal government would interfere politically with the nation’s Census. Our state and local governments depend on having the most accurate data possible for the apportionment of our districts, for the formulas several federal agencies and Congress use to appropriate taxpayer resources, and to have a sound system of counting every person in this country, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The Constitution of the United States guarantees that every person shall be counted, and we intend to fight this decision to the very end so that this sacred constitutional provision is respected,” NHCSL President and Senator Carmelo Ríos of Puerto Rico said.

“Instead of using the Voting Rights Act as an excuse to lower the count of immigrant Americans and other minorities, the federal government should be strengthening and protecting this solemn statute, that was precisely enacted to protect against the type of arbitrary discrimination that adding a citizenship question to the Census would provoke. The last thing we should be doing is breaching decades of trust built between the professional career staff at the Census and immigrant communities. Every person living in this country, according to the Constitution, needs to be counted and we should be doing everything in our power to ensure that no one is intimidated from responding,” said NHCSL Executive Director Kenneth Romero-Cruz.

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