Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught for 25 years. The former president of the National Lawyers Guild and criminal defense attorney is a legal scholar and political analyst who writes books and articles, and lectures throughout the world about human rights, US foreign policy, and the contradiction between the two. She has testified before Congress and debated the legality of the war in Afghanistan at the prestigious Oxford Union. Her columns appear on Truthout, HuffPost, Salon, Jurist, Truthdig, Portside, CommonDreams and Consortium News, and she has provided commentary for CBS News, BBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, NPR and Pacifica Radio.
July 14, 2019
On July 11, President Trump gave up his fight to ask people about their citizenship on the 2020 census.
The question, which the administration has been trying to add to the census since 2017, would have resulted in a significant undercount by dissuading people in households with undocumented residents from responding to the census. An estimated 6.5 million people could be uncounted if the question were included, according to the Census Bureau.
The census is used to calculate how many seats each state will have in the House of Representatives, the number of Electoral College votes each state will get in the presidential elections beginning in 2024, and how $900 billion in federal funds will be distributed to the states annually for hospitals, schools, health care and infrastructure for the next 10 years.
There is no doubt the administration knew that a question asking about citizenship would result in an undercount of Latinos and benefit Republicans. GOP strategist Thomas Hofeller had urged that the question be included in the census as it would “be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redistricting.
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