Local officials and community groups lauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to temporarily block the citizenship question from the 2020 census.
The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Trump administration’s reason for adding the citizenship question was “more of a distraction” than an explanation. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal judges in blocking the question for now.
The ruling effectively sends the case back to lower courts, raising questions about whether or not the Trump administration will be able to get the OK before the fast-approaching deadline to print the questionnaires. The Trump administration had originally asked the high court to expedite its decision to meet a June 30 deadline for finalizing the census forms. The president tweeted Thursday that he is exploring delaying the census altogether.
Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement that the citizenship question was “designed solely to stoke fear in our immigrant communities, and while today’s Supreme Court ruling was encouraging, I urge the courts to fully strike down this damaging proposal.” He also touted the $29 million the state had appropriated for census outreach, which he announced last week.
Pritzker was one of many elected officials, among others, who lauded the court’s decision. U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth called the news “a relief,” adding that the Trump administration “should abandon this effort so we can move forward with our work to obtain a fair, accurate representation of our nation’s population.”
Recent research from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the addition of the citizenship question would have an adverse effect on self-response rates of households that include noncitizens.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who filed a brief in April opposing the citizenship question, said it’s unlikely the Trump administration will prevail.
“I guess the Supreme Court did leave a window of opportunity open, but I find it very challenging for [the U.S. Department of] Commerce to be able to put forth a rationale for inclusion of the question and be convincing about that,” Raoul said.
During the Cook County Board meeting on Thursday, cheers and applause broke out at the news of the high court’s ruling. The County Board also approved the selection of members to the Cook County complete count commission, a group charged with ensuring that hard-to-count communities are not missed in the census.
Community groups working with immigrant populations also were cautiously optimistic.
“I think it’s really great for communities on the ground that are trying to make sure that we have an accurate count on the census,” said Patrick Brosnan, executive director of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. “And I’m just hoping that decision is going to be maintained in a lower court ruling.”
Brosnan added that Brighton Park is one of the neighborhoods in Chicago where most of the households include both citizens and noncitizens. Brighton Park, along with the Archer Heights, Armour Square, Bridgeport, McKinley Park, and New City community areas, make up an area where almost 60% of households have at least one foreign-born member living in the home, according to an analysis by demographer Rob Paral.
Paral said Thursday’s ruling is significant because “almost the entire Chicago area is affected by the citizenship question. … We have a huge immigrant population, and it lives in most of the area.” One out of every four households in Cook County includes at least one immigrant, he added.