Immigrant advocates praise Supreme Court's decision to block citizenship question on census

Cherri Gregg
June 27, 2019 - 1:14 pm
U.S. Supreme Court

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In a politically charged decision Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census — for now. 

Related: Justices deal blow to effort to limit partisan districts

Philadelphia immigrant advocates say the Supreme Court made the right call.

"It's amazing news," said Miguel Andrade, spokesman for Juntos, a grassroots group that fights for immigrant rights.

The Trump administration argued that adding the citizenship question would help the country better comply with federal voting rights laws. But the Supreme Court rejected the rationale in a 5-4 decision, sending the case back to lower courts for further hearings, casting doubt on whether there's enough time to make it through another round of red tape before the census begins.

Andrade and other advocates believe asking about citizenship would intimidate non-citizens, driving them underground.

"We were prepared to encourage people to not participate in the census because it was such an egregious question to be added," he said.

Katia Perez, Philadelphia organizer for Make the Road Pennsylvania, said the question is simply unnecessary.

"The census is about having every single person counted," she added.

Make the Road Pennsylvania rallied on Monday at the Philadelphia ICE headquarters because she said immigrant communities are living in fear of raids and deportation.

"Because a lot of households are mixed status, who is that information going to be shared with?" she said.

As long as the issue stays off the census, her organization, which advocates for the Latino community, will work to make sure all households participate.

"To make sure that people are not scared to fill out the forms and that people are counted," she continued. 

Mayor Jim Kenney issued a joint statement with Stephanie Reid, executive director of Philly Counts, which reads, in part: 

“While the ultimate impact of today’s Supreme Court ruling is not yet clear, we are encouraged that at least some of the justices appear to share the concerns that many Americans have. ... We remain concerned about how a question on citizenship status could negatively impact our city, and the country, for generations to come. We know that this question could add significant barriers to the 2020 Census.

“We are hopeful that the continuation of these cases in District Courts will result in the rejection of any new, contrived reasoning from the Trump administration as they attempt to push through a question that is aimed at suppressing full participation of immigrants across the country.”